I wanted to see what would be the best way to look for volunteer work so that I can get some exposure to UX. I want to know where designers such as yourself started looking for side project to get experience?
Take a look at participating in hackathons. This may seem like a developer focus thing, but most projects they work on usually have a user facing component associated to it and thus can use the skill of UX designers. Most developers would love to get a designer to help make their stuff look polished.
I would start by going to http://www.meetup.com and search for hackathon events happening in your area.
Offer your services to non profits.