Home Career Services Volunteering: What’s In It for You?

Volunteering: What’s In It for You?

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By Rowe Leatherstips-for-success
Contributor, Career Services

As a student you have enough on your plate, often having barely enough time to accomplish your tasks and meet your family obligations. With all of these demands, how can you possibly give anymore at a time when you are busy trying to “get” educated and employed?

Volunteering is more than just giving, it is also about receiving. Without question, volunteering is one of the best ways to enter a field with little or no experience; particularly for college students who are seeking entry into their chosen field. 

The majority of charities and foundations ask for little more than your time and commitment as entrance into their organizations. These opportunities provide experience in areas such as fundraising, event planning, communications, local politics, and public service. Oftentimes you will find yourself shoulder to shoulder with industry leaders who serve as the heads of committees and are relying on volunteers, like you, for assistance.

Volunteering is of particular value for those students taking their general courses, though are eager to get a taste for their chosen field.  Opportunities with large non-profit organizations provide hands-on experience that puts you “in the trenches,” with seasoned veteran volunteers, who may be leaders in their field and be willing and able to open doors for you.

A marketing major eager to jump into promotions can find opportunities promoting local non-profit events. A history major can sign up to be a docent at a local museum. English students looking to teach can volunteer for the reading program at their local library.  Are you a finance major?  Check with your county to see if they offer basic financial services to low income residents and the elderly. Those who are in the field of information technology should consider contacting a local chapter of Information Technology Disaster Resource Center, Inc., where opportunities exist to help local communities prepare for and assist during times of disaster.  If you are truly interested in volunteering, you can find opportunities in almost any industry.

Consider volunteering as an opportunity to develop your interests and fine tune your skills.  You will build a network of new friends and professional connections that can vouch, not only for your work, but also your dedication and passion.  Volunteering can help you identify industry mentors, potential employers, and even life-long friends.

As contradictory as it seems, the act of giving your time can be strangely self-serving, in that it allows you the opportunity to connect with people who share your same interests, vision, and dedication.  Working for a cause you believe in is a wonderful unifier.

Though like any other career step, do your research prior to jumping in.  Be honest with the organization about what you want from the opportunity, while at the same time being genuine and authentic about what you are willing to give.

Volunteer experience on your resume can speak volumes. It demonstrates that says you are a giver, you care about others, you have a willingness to contribute, and are passionate about making a difference.

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