1.8. Volunteering and Internships
Finding a job or determining your career path will not happen over night. The worst thing you can do (and most people actually do it) is to simply apply for jobs and wait for that phone call or e-mail. Consider volunteering or interning for an organization in the field you hope to find a job. Not only will this give you the opportunity to "try on" a job, you can make a significant difference by offering your time and energy. In addition, a future employer will like the fact that you are doing something. According to CareerBuilder, 63% of hiring managers view volunteer work as relevant experience when evaluating a candidate.
Volunteer and internship opportunities offer you the chance to learn new skills, polish existing skills in a civilian setting, make new professional contacts (who can ultimately become references), and eliminate gaps in employment from your resume. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers offer jobs to 70% of their interns.
- Often overlooked is the Non-Paid Work Experience program (NPWE) offered by VA's VetSuccess program. The NPWE program offers eligible veterans and servicemembers an opportunity to obtain training and practical job experience concurrently and may be established in federal, state, or local government agencies only.
- Look for volunteer opportunities in your local community. United We Serve offers a search engine where you can find volunteer opportunities in your local area.
- The Mission Continues challenges veterans to serve and lead in communities across the country through fellowships. Fellowships are 26 weeks in length and require about 20 hours per week (520 hours total), take place at nonprofit organizations within the community, and offer a cost-of-living stipend. You are encouraged to choose a fellowship location based on your personal passions.
- The Corporation for National and Community Service is working through AmeriCorp to actively engage disabled veterans in national and community service. Full-time AmeriCorp volunteers receive a modest living allowance and an educational stipend.
- If you are injured, still on active duty, and in the rehabilitation and recovery process, consider an Operation Warfighter internship. Internships are flexibly scheduled around medical appointments and can range from a few hours a week to full-time.
 Additional transitional employment programs, including supported employment, can also be accessed through VetSuccess. All programs will require enrollment and eligibility.