Immigration to the USA: how I worked for free, and then became a director
Let's talk a little about volunteering in the USA. For some, this is a completely familiar thing, but at first I was amazed at how much many city and community organizations and events in Seattle were tied to volunteers. Even more - many are completely dependent on volunteers! No volunteers - no free English courses for immigrants, and so on.
I, too, was imbued with this story, especially immediately after the move — while I was waiting for permission to work, there was more than enough time, I was eager to get some local work experience and adapt more quickly to a new place. I worked for a St. Petersburg company remotely then, and daytime was wasted.
I quickly found out that volunteering can be both for the soul and for work.
The first organization I volunteered for was the Seattle Public Library. There I taught English to immigrants from all over the world.
In parallel, I started volunteering at the MyPOP Science Fiction Museum. I helped with the festivals and was responsible for the interactive musical composition - I helped the museum guests sort out musical instruments, set up guitars ...
My occupation had nothing to do with my specialty. I am a marketer. I worked there for the soul. In summary, I write down this experience at the very end in the LEADERSHIP & COMMUNITY SERVICE section. This is a bonus to the resume, large corporations love this, but it does not play any key role.
Then I found out that you can be a volunteer in a narrow specialty. It was a very important moment for me - in the USA you need to have local work experience in order for your resume to be considered for a good position. By that time, I had just started volunteering at the Gage Academy of Art, where I also helped with exhibitions. The academy is small compared to the other two organizations where I worked, and I knew that they had almost no people in the marketing department.
Plucking up the courage, I offered to work for free in their marketing department as an assistant director. And ... they took me! Then my work permit came - and they immediately started paying me. I spent almost two years in this organization and even rose to the director of marketing. I am already writing this down in the EXPERIENCE column of my resume. This is one of the rare occasions when volunteering has turned into work. And from the moment this line appeared on my resume, doors to many other companies have opened for me.
This part of the article will be important for those who want to immigrate to the United States and work in their specialty.
In my experience, if you want your volunteering to become exactly the experience of working in the USA, then look for small organizations where 10-20 people work. They may really need an employee in your specialty, but they don’t have money for him.
Large organizations, such as museums, libraries, shelters, zoos, have their own large staff and recruit a large number of volunteers - mainly in positions with low levels of responsibility and small shifts. That is, it is not easy to get real experience for a resume there.
On the subject: 8 things our immigrants always bring to America from Russia
Although I chose all organizations at the call of my heart, I was lucky. And I advise you to do the same - because you give your work, it should bring satisfaction and joy to you. That is, I first found an organization, and then I looked for an opportunity to help them. All non-profit organizations on the site must have a volunteer tab - you go there. There will be all the instructions.
Even now, as a full-time professional at Dell, I continue to volunteer for two organizations. At the animal shelter, I photograph and manage the website in their marketing department. And I'm on the board of directors of Seattle Fashion Week. But it will go to LEADERSHIP & COMMUNITY SERVICE, and not to EXPERIENCE, because the area of responsibility is still not that big.
Someone will ask why I did not volunteer in Russia, because we have it. I will answer - I left for the USA immediately after graduation. At that time, I worked as a marketer, wrote a dissertation and taught English. I will not cheat, I just did not think about it. And if I return, I will surely be.
By the way, every hour of volunteering in the USA is equivalent to the fact that you donated $ 25 to your organization! Nice, right?
The original column is published on Karina Kudinova’s page Instagram and reprinted with permission of the author.
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