Frequently (Un)asked Questions
Some Frequently (un)Asked Questions
How do I make contact with an agency?
There are several ways to go about making contact. You can obtain the phone number of the agency from our website and call them directly. Or you can stop by the office, and the Director, Assistant Director or one of our student workers will help you to make initial contact.
Will I get training?
You might get training, depending on what type of job you choose. At some agencies, there is extensive training so you can learn their philosophy, their rules and expectations, and so forth. At other agencies they will provide on-the-spot training when you arrive. Other positions require no training, and you are put to work right away! You can also acquire some informal training by speaking to the director. She can put you in touch with other Saint Mary's students who have worked at the agency in which you are interested. They can tell you about their experiences and what you might need to expect.
Can I bring a friend?
Some agencies encourage groups of people to come together. Volunteering with a friend or several friends is fun and memorable. Other agencies ask that you not bring a friend along unless the agency has been informed in advance. This is usually the case when there is more extensive training involved. The best practice is to ask when you contact the agency if they have a policy about bringing friends along.
What if I feel uncomfortable?
It is not unusual to feel uncomfortable at first when doing community service, especially if you are interacting with populations of people that you are not familiar with, or if there is a language barrier. The best cure for discomfort is time. Allow yourself time to get adjusted, and remember that this might be a "stretching" experience for you! Many of the people you will interact with have some of the same dreams and hopes you do. Invite conversation and focus on being a good and genuine listener.
What if I don't like it?
This might be a time for discernment, when you need to decide of you want to discontinue because of discomfort (which might be temporary or simply challenging) or if the placement is truly not a good fit. Talk your feelings through with a trusted friend or one of the student directors at the OCSE. Sometimes we do not know ourselves well enough to know what type of service we enjoy most. Some people like being involved in the one-on-one human interaction, while others prefer working behind the scenes. It may take trying out several types of service before you figure out what works best for you and your personality type.
What do I do if I have problems?
Do not be afraid to seek out your supervisor at the agency or speak to the OCSE Director. There are various ways to cope with problems, depending on the type and severity. Do not hesitate to ask for help!