Even before the “great resignation,” who couldn’t use an extra pair of hands? An often-overlooked resource are student volunteers.

Here are some guidelines for implementing a Student Volunteer Program:

 Discuss the Concept with your Human Resources and Volunteer Department: Your Volunteer Department may ask you to provide a list of things the volunteer will do. They will also help you get volunteers. It is always wise to keep your Human Resources department in the loop. Also, if your employees are unionized, Human Resources can help ensure that you follow guidelines for volunteers in your department.

Discuss the Volunteer Program with your Team: Make sure your employees know the purpose of the program and what the volunteers will be trained to do. Often employee concerns come from lack of understanding and ultimately, employees enjoy mentoring student volunteers.

Always Interview Volunteer Candidates: A student that looks great on paper with the wrong attitude will be more of a hinderance than help. Conversely, a volunteer may not have stellar academic references, but may sparkle as a team player.

Volunteers Need Orientation and Competency Documentation: Just as you do with your employees, you will need to orient and document competency for your volunteers.

Volunteers Need to Know How They are Doing: After a few weeks of volunteering, make sure you or someone from your management team lets your volunteer know how they are doing. You may also get some great feedback from the volunteer’s observations!

Ensure Time in the Volunteer Assignment: Many departments establish a baseline number of volunteer hours before the student volunteer is scheduled to observe or “shadow” a RD, Chef, or any other member of the team.

Volunteers Can Provide a Hiring Pool: How great is it to see how someone performs before you hire them – you can do that with volunteers! Student volunteers often need part time or per diem jobs while in school or during summers and holidays.

While Student Volunteer Programs do require development and coordination, paying it forward can have wonderful payback for you and your operations!

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