There was a time when a person who volunteered was simply an assistant to someone who had more work than they could do on their own and you didn’t need to have any special skills other than typing or filing.
Today, however, I have discovered that volunteers are actually unpaidemployees, taking the place of workers who once were paid do the job, but were downsized out of positions. Because of this, businesses, or organizations only want people who have experience working with their type of business or organization. Now, rather than assisting someone with their work and being told what to do, they want someone to come in knowing what needs to be done and how to do it. Sometimes the volunteer even creates their own job or heads a department of volunteers.
It has gotten to be just as difficult as finding an entry level job. Everyone wants to hire someone who has experience, but how does one get experience when they can’t get a job that will teach them. We used to be told that doing volunteer work was a way to get experience, but that is not true any longer. I’ve tried to volunteer at the museums for example, but as far as I can tell they only accept college students or former teachers and the like, who have some specific knowledge about what are in the museum collections.
It seems like a waste of that knowledge when only those who direct tour groups actually need to be able to share that kind of information. I suppose they want people who are able to backup the docents, but in the meantime if I was an expert in a particular subject I would not want to work checking coats, selling tickets or just watching museum visitors and answering questions and giving directions as necessary. I seldom see anyone approach the museum staff that is standing around with nothing to do; does that take a special skill?