Volunteer Jobs on the H4 Visa
I have written about volunteering on the H4 visa before, and on how networking can get you there. And I know that on paper or online, it sounds simpler than it really is.
First, getting a volunteer job you like is not easy. Second, you will have to work hard, or at least work, without pay. Third, many of us dont have two cars when on the H4 so commute is a hassle. Commute is ofcourse worse if you cant drive – who wants to negotiate with the husband every morning. So many of us just stay at home and or want ‘volunteer’ jobs to do from home.
But inspite of all that I think it is important. First, because it gets you out of the house. Second, it makes you join the American workforce in some way. Why I think this is important is that it gives you a voice. A voice in the workforce that has a greater chance of being heard even in immigration negotiations. Third, it gives you your own friend circle in the multicultural environment that we live in – a circle of friends beyond our comfort zone of friends and relatives. And just what you can find out about this country by working is amazing and interesting. Fourth, hopefully you get to do something worthwhile and something that you like. Fifth, your resume is not blank for the time – and much more than in India, volunteer work is appreciated here. College grads actually take a year off to volunteer before joining back. You can really get valuable experience which makes a transition back to the paid workforce easier. And who knows, maybe you discover new passions.
So what kind of jobs? I think there are three kinds – and you probably know more, so do add.
- Local volunteer jobs at community instituitions such as the YMCA or the library or temple or church or at an animal shelter.
- Charity related volunteer jobs such as at a Childrens hospital or other charities
- Industry related volunteer jobs at associations, laboratories, universities and even some enlightened companies.
Working for pay is no fun unless your passion is stirred, so go with your interests and not the first available. This I know from experience.
Finding Volunteer Jobs:
- For the local ones, just ask at the volunteer desks at the instituitions like the library or YMCA. Some of these jobs can be a lot of fun and before and after office hours (makes the car sharing question easier) or even whole day for a couple of days a week, if you are up for it.
- For charities, I found this website called www.volunteermatch.org. I have not used the site but it seems to match jobs to interests. Yahoo jobs, monster etc also has sections for non profit or volunteer jobs. You can at least peruse them to see the kind of jobs available and then look in your local area
- Networking: This is very important for the industry volunteer jobs. Use contacts you have – ask actively. Ask professors, or get referals to universities. More on networking here.
- Join associations and attend their meetings. Some of the association jobs are around fund raising – if you believe in the cause, say raising money for a women in IT event, you may find these jobs are work-at-home, do on the phone projects which allow you interaction with outside while staying at home. Even beyond fundraising, some of these jobs include writing, building readership, sending newsletters etc – all volunteer jobs you can do from home on your H4 visa.
- Check out your husbands office or office or others you know. You may find that the office is already involved in a lot of charities or people in the office are. Trying to join those may give you an easy way in, and let you network both inside and outside the office. Also, its much easier through a contact
- if you have kids – schools, kids activities offer active opportunities for volunteering. Go with the flow.
- Internet searches use volunteer jobs and not volunteer jobs on H4 visa as the first will give you better results and opportunities.
Must do’s: I am sure there are a lot of others, but I think you must check with your lawyer and you must be honest when talking to any agency. In the US the premium for honesty is very high, and for an H4 visa there is nothing to be ashamed of!
The next part of my series on volunteering on the H4 visa is here.
Some more posts to look at: Five places to find a job when on an H4 visa. A serialized story on H4 life.. share yours. Also, Five ways to boost your career and job prospects when on the H4 visa.
Now I am no expert on this, so please add and correct me! All the best.
Last 5 posts by Amrita Bakshi
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