New Volunteer FAQ’s

If your question is not asked on this page, look for a question that might be similar to yours.

Introduction

Who can answer my questions?

This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page may have the answers you are looking for.  

If you don’t find an FAQ topic concerning the thing you need help with, then please consider asking a Team Member or your Department Head (DH) on your Department’s Slack Channel. You can also reach out to your Volunteer Executive Officer (XO), if you have any questions concerning the Volunteer program. If you cannot find an answer here and do not have access your department Slack channel, you can try sending an email to your Department’s Division Officer (DO), Department Head (DH), Executive Leadership Team (ELT), or your XO. 

Remember, there is no such thing as a dumb question, so feel free to ask if you don’t know or are confused by something. Just remember to be patient. Someone will get back to you!

A key thing to note, especially at the beginning of the Volunteer program, is that the entire leadership team is made up of Digital Media Engagement (DME) Interns. Throughout the year, they will be taking classes just like you. They are very responsive, but not always online at the exact time you ask a question.

 

 

Onboarding

What do I do once I have accepted an offer to join the DME Team as a Virtual Volunteer?

You will be sent an invitation to join the DME Slack channel. From there you will be added to the Volunteers channel, where you will begin onboarding with VA’s Voluntary Service (VAVS) office.

When can a Volunteer start working on DME projects?

A Volunteer must first complete the VAVS orientation prior to starting any work and have their paperwork signed and submitted to Tyrone Green.

Volunteers must notify Dominique Ramirez or their Volunteer XO after completing orientation to begin work.

 

I finished VAVS onboarding, now what do I do?

Volunteers must update their profile information on Slack, which should include their name, project title, and the word “Volunteer,” e.g., Lisa Lee Graphic Design Volunteer

HR will invite Volunteers to attend Boot Camp orientation to introduce them to their respective departments.

In the Boot Camp pages, you will learn about the Organizational structure and the apps we use, including:

  • Slack: Team Communication After Basic Training occurs through Slack’s team application, located elsewhere online and by email. Watch a Video About How To Use Slack. At the end of Boot Camp, you will find a link to join Slack and a link once you complete basic training, post a reply to this forum indicating that you watched the video, are oriented, and ready for the next steps.
  • Trello: Intern teams use a project management application, called Trello, also located elsewhere online, to facilitate collaboration on creative projects such as writing pieces and other tasks. Watch a tutorial on Using Trello. You will receive a Trello invitation once you complete basic training and post a reply to this forum indicating that you are oriented and ready.
  • YouTube: See VA DME Training Videos

At the end of the Boot Camp pages, you will be invited to join team conversations and project activities.

Volunteers are encouraged to participate. Please reach out to your Department Head (DH) by sending them a Direct Message (DM) if you have any questions, completed Boot Camp training, and are ready to begin working on your team’s respective projects. Please ensure to properly track your hours as it is the Volunteer’s responsibility to comply with rules and properly report hours.

 

 

Which bootcamp is required to complete? Both the general and departmental bootcamp?

You will need to complete both the general and departmental bootcamp. While there is some overlapping content, the material is included to reinforce the information taught. 

What should I do if I haven’t received an email from HR?

First, make sure that your invitation was not sent to a spam folder. You should receive an email from Human Resources with a link to our WordPress page.

Volunteer Policies

What are the most important Volunteer policies?

Important Volunteer Policies: The following are important policies for current Volunteers. Please forward any questions to your Volunteer XO.

1. Volunteer Expectations

Volunteers must work a minimum of ten (10) hours on DME projects to satisfy requirements.

Volunteers are limited to working forty (40) hours a week.

As part of the VAVS onboarding process, you signed multiple documents assigning yourself to the DME Team, so it’s imperative as Volunteers to prioritize your work to DME projects first. If Volunteers have some free time and have taken care of their DME responsibilities, they may moonlight with other VA teams outside of DME.

During the summer months, we will be short-staffed, so we need Volunteers to prioritize working on DME projects, as many of the interns will be leaving.

Because Volunteers are enrolling to be members of the DME Team, only the ten hours worked in DME are counted and should be made a priority. If work is being done outside of DME, Tyrone Green will monitor those hours. You are also welcome to work more than 10 hours with DME if you wish.

2. Vacation Policy

All Volunteers within the DME Team Internship Program are permitted to take vacations as long as they inform their respective leadership.

Volunteers who take vacations must give at least seven (7) days advance notice to relevant leadership and Tyrone Green that they will take a vacation.

  • Retroactive notice of vacation is not permitted
  • Volunteers must inform Tyrone Green, Dominique Ramirez, and their Volunteer XO of the start date and end date of their vacation.
  • Volunteers must inform DH(s) of the department(s) they are assisting and give them a start and end date of their vacation.
  • It is the responsibility of DH(s) to notify their respective ELT members that a Volunteer is going on vacation.

3. Requested Time Off (RTO) Policy

Volunteers will notify Tyrone Green, Dominique Ramirez, and their Volunteer XO about any extensive leave of absence (e.g., exams, family death, illness). It is also the Volunteer’s responsibility to notify their DH, as well, that they will be taking time off.

Can I earn college credit from volunteering with DME?

No, but Volunteers are able to earn Volunteer credit.

Can Volunteers switch departments?

The bulk of your time will be spent working on projects within your department. Any Volunteer who wishes to switch departments will need to speak with their respective department heads to gain approval to switch departments. It is ultimately up to the leadership in both departments to approve a request. If you have fulfilled your time requirements within your assigned department, or there is not enough work for you at the moment in your assigned department, you are welcome to work with other departments to either fulfill your 10 hours, or to work outside of the required 10 hours.

What do I need to include in my weekly report?

Volunteers must accurately record their hours of work through the Volunteer Jibble account. Jibble is an online tool that helps you accurately track your hours. All Volunteers must put their hours in an Excel spreadsheet. Please include the day, how many hours you worked that day, and the total number of hours for the week. When submitting your hours to the VAVS office, please round up, as they do increments of. 25 when posting to their system. Please email your weekly report with your DME Volunteer hours to Mary Barcikowski and your Volunteer XO. Your Volunteer XO can provide you with any applicable email addresses.

What are the do’s and don’ts of working as a DME Volunteer?

Do:

-Keep things respectful and professional, treat others the way you want to be treated.

-Respond to others in a timely and organized manner.

-Provide feedback in the form of reactions on Slack.

-Give recognition for other people’s hard work and time.

-Most importantly, learn and have fun!

Don’t:

-Talk about anything political or religious, as federal employees cannot discuss politics at work due to the Hatch Act.

-Participate in a project or interview, and not do it. If you cannot perform a task, at least let your teammates know.

-Harass others or interact with others in an unprofessional way. After all, most of the leadership is made up of students like yourself.

What does DO, DH, ELT stand for? Where can I find my DH, and how do I contact them?

DO – Division Officer
DH – Department Head
ELT – Executive Leadership Team

You can find an alphabetical list of the VA DME Internship Departments with their respective contact info at https://dmeinterns.org/internship-structure/.

  • Department Head (DH): Department Heads are interns who manage and lead departments within the DME Internship Program. Opposed to DOs, they are at the top level, incorporating bigger-picture work in developing an entire department. 
  • Division Officer (DO): Reporting to DHs, DOs are more tactically concerned with managing interns and intern work within a specific aspect of a department.
  • Executive Leadership Team (ELT): The ELT support the Internship/Volunteer Supervisor (Dominique Ramirez) to develop internship policies and procedures, manage communication within the internship, answer questions about the overall internship program, analyze metrics in all departments, supervise interns in a specific area of responsibility, and disseminate important announcements to all interns.

Other Questions

How do I deal with a Veteran's concerning content I find online?

Veterans Crisis Hotline Referrals:

We Don’t Leave Our Own Behind!

Be sure to refer any Veteran in need to the Veterans Crisis Hotline.

This is a Priority For All Veterans.

While doing our work, we may meet a Veteran who needs help as revealed by any online or social media activity. Inform your Department Head about any concerning content you find online.  If you don’t get a response, inform ELT. You can save a life! 

What happens if a Veteran contacts the crisis hotline?

Notes below are from the Veterans crisis hotline at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/about/what-to-expect – They have other useful resources there.

What happens when I contact the Veterans Crisis Line?

When you call, chat, or text the Veterans Crisis Line, one of our trained responders will help you through any personal crisis, even if it does not involve thoughts of suicide. You decide how much you want to share — we’re here to listen and to help.

If you are in danger — or the Veteran or Service member you’re concerned about is in danger — the responder will work to make sure everyone is safe. The responder will help you get through the crisis and then help you connect with the services you need, either from your local VA medical center or elsewhere in your community. If you decide to share your contact information, the Suicide Prevention Coordinator at the nearest VA medical center will contact you by the next business day.

If you — or the Veteran or Service member you are concerned about — are in crisis but not at imminent risk for injury or suicide, then the responder will listen, offer support, and help you make a plan to stay safe.

What happens when I call the Veterans Crisis Line?

Dial 1-800-273-8255. You will hear this recording:

“You have reached the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, also servicing the Veterans Crisis Line. If you are in emotional distress or suicidal crisis or are concerned about someone who might be, we’re here to help. Please remain on the line while we route your call to the nearest crisis center in our network. Attention: If you are a U.S. military Veteran or current Service member or are calling about one, please Press 1 now to speak with the Veterans Crisis Line.”

Press 1. There will be a brief pause while the call is routed to the Veterans Crisis Line. A responder specially trained to support Veterans and Service members will answer your call and provide the support described above.

What happens when I text the Veterans Crisis Line?

Send a text to 838255. You can say as much or as little as you like to get the conversation started. You will receive a text back that reads:

“VA Crisis Center: I’m here to help. If in danger, call 911. For more info, call 800-273-8255. (Press 1). Please keep msgs under 160 characters. STOP to cancel.”

You may text STOP at any time to end the conversation. If you do, you will receive this free message in response:

“Free Msg: VA Crisis Center: You have successfully unsubscribed and will receive no more messages. More info email VHA.SuicideHotlineStaff@va.gov. Conversation ended, this text dialogue has been deleted. For more help, call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.”

How do I chat online?

Go to VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.

Read the chat terms of service. Please note:

  • The Veterans Crisis Line does not collect personally identifiable information unless you provide that information to the responder.
  • Security controls, including encryption and authentication, are in place to protect your information.
  • Any contractors acting on behalf of VA in administering the Veterans chat service are subject to the same legal requirements VA follows for maintaining the privacy and security of your information.

Check the box next to “I agree to the Terms of Service” and click the button to start your confidential chat.

A new screen will appear, asking for your first name or a nickname so the responder knows how to address you. Click “Send” to start the chat. A chat box will appear with either a responder ready to chat or a window letting you know that someone will be right with you. A responder will reply to your message immediately and provide the support described above.

After the Call: Support doesn’t end with your conversation. Our responders can put you in touch with local resources after your call, chat, or text.