It’s true. I was interviewed about my role as a “volunteer coordinator.” Chi Alpha is run by a LOT of student input & direction, but someone has to wrangle all of that potential! I spend lots & lots of time texting, facebooking, and meeting up with people to make sure Chi Alpha goes well! I actually never really thought of myself as a volunteer coordinator until the FABULOUS, AMAZING, and HILARIOUS Morgan asked if she could interview me for her class. I thought it gave a little bit of a different perspective on my job and I thought I’d post the answers here.
(Also- hopefully this redeems the time I called Morgan a weirdo on my blog. Also, Morgan- I have a question for you- What happened to all the crooners? How come nobody croons anymore?)
Without further ado, here you go:
Tell me a little about yourself and how your educational, career or personal experiences have led you to this position.
My name is Katie Cannon and I have a degree in Social Work from ASU. Social work is largely about connecting people to resources and empowering them to make decisions. As a student, I was involved in Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship. It had such a radical impact on me and my family, that I knew that I wanted to be a part of that for other people. My position with Chi Alpha is deeply personally satisfying and allows me to use my degree while having A LOT of fun.
How did you know you were a good fit for this position?
Other people identified skills in me that I thought came naturally for everyone. I enjoy bringing people together and naturally have high energy. I like people. All of these things were necessary for the position.
What skills are important to possess for your position?
Patience, flexibility, grace, and a sense of humor. Things change quickly, people are unpredictable, and you have to be ready to roll with anything.
What does an average day look like for you?
Every day is a little bit different for me. Most days consist of administrative work (lots of emails, facebook messages, texts, etc). I do a fair bit of fundraising- sharing the vision with other people. Weekly, I attend meetings with other campus leaders. I also am constantly planning events- this is where much of the volunteer coordination comes in. I also update all social media- Twitter, facebook, our blog, and website.
Why do you enjoy your work, and what do you like most about your position?
I enjoy my work because I really believe in what I’m doing. I believe that, by impacting the morals and ethics of today’s students, we can have an impact on the entire global community. Like I said before, it’s so much fun!!!!
My favorite part of the job is when people “catch” the vision and start to take ownership for the organization. It can be challenging and take a while, but there is nothing better than seeing someone really run after their dreams.
What do you like most about working with volunteers?
I like working with volunteers because they are full of ideas and passion. I love working with people and I get to spend so much time with people! I like that people are willing to work hard for a cause with out getting anything in return.
What do you like least about working with volunteers?
The hardest part of working with volunteers is that they can be difficult to discipline. You can’t “fire” them for having a bad attitude or not showing up. You want them to come back, to keep helping, but sometimes issues come up that you have to confront. Some volunteers can be flaky or non committal or change their mind at a moment’s notice. That can make planning really hard.
Can you share the details of your methods of recruitment, interviewing, matching volunteers to positions, training, supervision, and recognition? Do you see any room for improvement in these areas?
The majority of the volunteers that I interact with are recruited internally. They have been involved in the organization and have expressed interest in helping out. We have a training weekend at the beginning of the school year that involves teaching and training on the mission & values of the organization and some organizational details. This weekend also allows for relational bonding that is a high value in our organization. A contract is presented to each volunteer that outlines expectations and requirements. It is good for one school year. Most are not interviewed, though we will probably move towards that in the future. As far as matching students to positions, that is done by selecting students that seem to have a particular skill or could develop a skill. For instance, usually students who have been very involved in a small group and generally have a positive attitude will make good small group leaders. These decisions are made by a small group of staff members.
I think we could improve on many, if not all, of these areas. I’d love to see a more structured system of getting people to volunteer and some more official recognition in place.
Explain the mission and purpose of this organization and describe specifically how volunteers support the mission of the organization. Do you have methods of evaluating and reporting this community impact?
The mission of our organization is to transform the university, marketplace, and the world. We believe that, by teaching Biblical values and morality, we can have a huge impact on the next generation and the course of history. By teaching leadership skills and characters the businesses, schools, and laboratories of the world will have better people in them. We believe that much of this is “caught” rather than “taught.” Therefore, we place a high priority on community and relationship.
We don’t have any specific methods of evaluating the impact other than keeping in contact with alumni.
What is the biggest challenge you face as a volunteer manager? Do you have thoughts on the best method to address this challenge?
The biggest challenge I face is getting people motivated and getting people to follow through on what they say they are going to do. Like I said before, people can be really flaky and don’t understand that their choices have a broader impact on the community. It can also be hard to communicate the vision or purpose in mundane tasks. I don’t want to be hyper controlling or mean- I want people to enjoy volunteering for Chi Alpha and to get a lot out of it, but I also want jobs done well and efficiently.
I’m not sure what the best method is to combat this. Perhaps our selection process could be refined to have volunteers that really understood the commitment level needed. I think a more formal recognition system might be helpful, as well. Maybe I could just accept that I’ll have to be “mean” sometimes to get things done!