Being told I'm too old for volunteer work

Hi all. Ok I’m a little frustrated here so I just need to vent. I wrote in another thread that I have not been able to do any volunteer work. A big part of that is I don’t have the time during the school year…but ok if I’m perfectly honest, I don’t WANT to have the time because I’m tired of being told that I’m too old. I guess I’m a little frustrated with the volunteering requirement, because in the past when I have tried to apply for positions I’m told I’m too old. 32…old? HELLOOO!
My interests lie in humanitarian medical work, so I’ve applied to several “student summer internships” to work in the field. What gets me is that I am a full-fledged full-time student yet I am told I’m not eligible because of my age. I actually applied to one organization that the ONLY requirement for the internship listed was that you be a “full-time student.” Well I applied, didn’t get accepted and the next summer when I went to apply again they had posted an additional requirement: full-time student between the ages of 18-25.
Maybe I just need to start my own volunteer project for those 30 and above…then I can tell people “you’re too YOUNG” (which I think med schools need to start doing…but that’s a whole other thread) Thanks for letting me vent.

Yikes! That’s bad. You have a right to vent. I would suggest you’re too good for that program; maybe you can find something better.
Hospitals rely on volunteers; the one I volunteer at has hundreds of volunteers of all ages. The bulk of them are retirees, but there’s a substantial “premed” contingent as well. You might say, the young and the old are represented very well, but the folks in the middle years–30s, 40s, and 50s–tend not to be.
Perhaps there’s a hospital in your vicinity that accommodates non-traditional premed volunteers. I’m in a big city with several large teaching hospitals, but not every volunteer department is the same. I tried one hospital, had an awful experience, and moved to another hospital where I have had an excellent time.
Good luck!

None, of the summer internship programs for research that I applied to commented on my age and I was like 36-38 did three summer research programs. Maybe you need to expand your search or something…google summer internship research and you will get tons of hits. Vandy/Mayo/Yale/Duke are for sure taking non-trads

Venting is good. I’m sorry that you are so frustrated over how volunteer organizations are treating you. How crummy of that organization to refuse willing and able help all because an applicant fails to meet standards that are really rather trivial! Generosity of time and effort know no age limits.
I would not give up on finding volunteer positions. Keep at it. There are so many groups looking for help that with patience and persistence, you may find your match. Besides, if a group rejects an applicant because of something as immaterial as one’s age, perhaps you should ask yourself if you really want to volunteer with them? What does their discriminatory policies say about the organization and its management?
To liberally paraphrase the advice that Boeing (a member of OPM, not the company) gave on dealing with discriminatory medical schools: butting your head against doors that are closed to you may be counterproductive; rather, focus your energies on those door that are open to you, i.e. on groups that want you.
I was rejected from several volunteer gigs (for undisclosed reasons) before finding two volunteer groups that really wanted me (one is a international humanitarian medical group: I too want to do international health). I found them through: and the local
As far as starting your own group, it can take a lot of time and effort (based on my own experience). And when you go off to medical school, you probably won’t have time to run the group yourself and may have to hand it off to someone competent to carry on its mission. But it is a great option, if a time-consuming one. Now whether it should be open to only those 30 and above . . . that’s another matter!

Hi Bea,
I am surprised that they are saying you are too old since most of the people working in volunteer positions in hospitals are point of fact retirees. I really think they mean something else but I’m not sure what it is. Maybe they mean that they are afraid you are expecting to do something meaningful, or well who knows what they mean…
You could try Americorps or a VA hospital or any other government agency where they really can’t discriminate against you based on age. Honestly you might try saying that you feel you are being discriminated against based on age, and see if you find a changed attitude on their part, however a word of caution do you really want to volunteer (or work for that matter) in a place you have already found to be discriminatory?
With the massive shortage of people to work in every aspect of health care it’s more than a little shortsighted of them to want to decline someone because they aren’t in the 18 to 25 age group.
Good luck finding a place with more brains to volunteer with I think that’s crazy and you wanting to vent is perfectly understandable and probably healthier for you than holding in your annoyance with them!

Hi there,
Volunteering at a VA hospital is a great idea. The vets are some of the most grateful and positive folks that you will ever meet. Not only will you help folks who have given so much but you will come out of every experience with a big smile on your face.

Hi. Thanks for all of your support and suggestions! I’ve sent in a few more volunteer applications to some local hospitals. There is an excellent military hospital nearby with the best trauma center in the area so I’m hoping I can get into the emergency department there. And I’m online now looking for the nearest VA hospital…what a great idea guys! I’ve also found a few more international internships through some of your web links that I’ll try. Thanks again. I’ll let you know how it goes!

That’s Crap! Okay I just posted on the other thread, I spent 9 years in Hospice and Hospices are always looking for Volunteers. You could learn a lot about life and People. You can go to Hospice centers or peoples homes.
(I’m 41 I’ve been told I’m too old for med school and of course I didn’t listen.)

Okay it’s probably too late to say, “Before everyone gets all steamed at the place with the age restrictions…” because clearly lots o’ folks are already steamed. But as the parent of college-age kids let me just say that I’ve observed that there are often programs set up with a particular group in mind. Assumptions are made by just about all of us in certain situations, and so in the case of the OP, the program in question may have simply assumed (and yes, I know the joke about assume) that “college age” means 18-25. Heck they may actually think they’re being broad-minded by putting the upper limit at 25!
My advice to anyone who runs into one of these assumptions is to go back VERY NICELY and describe your own situation. Ask if you could be considered for the position regardless of age. If told no, ask what other positions are available. In other words, don’t take a door slammed in your face personally - and don’t take it lying down, either. Get right back up, knock again, and be persistent.
There is much mindless bureaucracy in the world. You can accept it (not advised) or you can challenge those whose help you need, to think outside the box and figure out ways around the usual rules. There are usually ways… and they usually involve being nice to the little people who kind of like those rules and feel a little uncomfortable when you challenge them. But if you’re really nice to them, they’ll often go out of their way to help you and you’ll have broadened their horizons in the process.
Good luck!