Create a "Signature Project"
In addition to training, another way to enrich learning experiences and professional development for SVLs is to provide the opportunity to create signature projects — something they can truly own and lead. Students may want to tackle a large project related to a community issue, or they could organize a day of service, bringing together many community agencies, students, and campuses.
You can also engage students in signature projects within your organization. Aside from average office tasks, give SVLs specific problems or topics for which they can take complete responsibility during their time with your program. For example, your volunteers could reorganize a supply closet or tool bank and find donors or partners to restock necessary supplies.
You can further the volunteer learning experience from signature projects by providing opportunities for volunteers to succeed in their service and evaluate the skills they gained as a result.
Provide Flexibility in Position Descriptions
Students will recognize that they have specific skills they need or want to strengthen. They may sign on as a student volunteer leader in order to hone a certain skill, or they may identify a skill they want to strengthen through the course of their service and training.
Work with students to determine what volunteer roles most closely align with their learning and development goals. Be flexible with their position descriptions to provide opportunities for them to develop and utilize the skills they have identified.
Be Aware of Volunteers' Different Work Styles: Position descriptions should best fit student volunteers' varied work styles. Some students work better with a tightly focused and detailed position description, while others perform better and enjoy their experience more when day-to-day tasks call for myriad skills and responsibilities. Be cognizant of each volunteer's work style and provide a flexible position description that reflects what you know about it.