Act 3 - Volunteering

How to use volunteering to reskill for a new career.

Act 3 - Volunteering
Ghost trees. Experiment with Watercolor and Masking Fluid on Paper

Since I am in the fortunate position of not needing to make money right away, I am spending time volunteering.

Volunteering, for me, helps to take care of the other 90% of the 70:20:10 model.

If the classes are the 10%, volunteering covers the "70% on-the-job" and "20% social learning" components.

I have projects to apply what I'm learning and people to ask.

Volunteering provides benefits to me beyond helping me reskill.

  • As with physical exercise, volunteering allows me to increase my intellectual stamina. I'm currently good for about 4-6 hours of "brain work" on a good day. Volunteering accommodates my fluctuations in energy as I work to increase my stamina.
  • I'm able to "test out" jobs and working environments. Do I like doing this? Are these people I like spending time with? If the answer to either one of these questions is "no," it's easier for me to quit. I'm not getting paid, so there's less sense of obligation.
  • Having a purpose is my preferred form of networking. Some of my best networking experiences have been events where everyone is working together towards a common goal. I've never gotten much out of "networking events" where everyone stands around with a drink in one hand and a business card in the other asking "So what do you do?"
  • Longer-term volunteering is a great way to get to know people, especially in your target field, and for them to get to know you.

I've decided to focus my volunteering time and efforts towards filling in skill gaps and updating unused knowledge.

I'm also using this "preparation" time to build both my physical and intellectual stamina.

Currently, the bulk of my volunteer efforts are with Alexandria Archaeology. I'm helping to transcribe 18th century shop ledgers. My goal is to get more involved in museum work and public archaeology, as well as increase my work stamina. They have been very supportive of this plan. I've been working in their office 2-3 hours per week and am slowly increasing that time towards a full day. The rest of my volunteer time has been at home.

If my 2-hour shifts at Alexandria Archaeology are any indication, I have more work to do. One 2-hour shift sitting in an office talking to people and I crash the rest of the day. If I had to work a 40+ hour work week right now, I might make it to Tuesday afternoon with some effort.

A painful reminder that the 3 flexible cups I used to work with - physical / mental / emotional - are now crammed into 1 brittle cup. Once that cup is filled, I am done and the system is not resilient enough to handle overflow. The speed with which this occurs still shocks me.