October 3, 2012 at 11:22 pm

Summer Volunteering (and how I survived it)


While some may have spent their summer at camp or making money, I entered the exciting world of summer volunteer work.  I spent every Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 am to 1 pm as an Administrative Assistant in New York Methodist Hospital’s Department of Surgery. Too young to interact with patients, I spent virtually all my time doing paperwork.  For four hours every day I alphabetized files, filed patient information, and delivered documents to obscure corners of the hospital.  By the end of my volunteer session, I had read the same physician names so many times that I had become emotionally attached.  Those doctors had become my friends.

Rather than going on to whine about the printer they had that was roughly the size of a car, and how much it hated me, or the time I dropped a cup of lemonade on my friend’s seat in the cafeteria, I’d like to also present the pros of summer volunteer work.  First of all, colleges love it.  Prospective employers love it too.  You’re gaining experience and helping the community, and you can meet some really cool people!  It’s also a great way to prepare yourself for an actual paying job.

The work varies greatly depending on where you volunteer, but if you do, you should expect to attend an orientation of some sort.  The usual rules of conduct apply; don’t break anything, be nice to people, actually do your work, etc.  It takes a few days to get adjusted, but once you do it’s as routine as going to school.  Without the homework, of course.

Volunteer work certainly had its ups and downs, and the occasional hysterical patient.  However, I learned more about working in a professional environment than I could have at any of the other available jobs for teenagers in the city.  In the end it was a rewarding experience, and I had some memorable encounters.  Like that guy who was strapped to a gurney and escorted through the hospital by police.  I wonder what that was all about.  And anyway, would I be applying to do it again in February if volunteering had been that bad?
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