Volunteer Initiatives Meld Service With Learning
Without lessening the intrinsic and rewarding benefits fostered by volunteerism, students are encouraged to view their efforts as a means of career preparation.
Whether your student favors humanitarian, political, civic and/or environmental causes, there are numerous opportunities available on campus, in the community or via corporations. The benefits include career sampling, skill building, networking and more.
Sampling Career Choices
Similar to informational interviews or job shadowing, volunteer experiences facilitate career exploration. Whether your student is majoring in the humanities, sciences or social sciences, he/she can benefit from volunteer opportunities. For freshmen and sophomores, these initiatives can lay the groundwork for internship possibilities as upperclassmen.
Gaining Practical Skills
Like any "real world" experience, volunteer positions can include project planning and coordination as well as challenges and successes—encounters that can help a student gain confidence in his/her abilities to be creative, to problem-solve and to exercise leadership.
In addition to promoting the acquisition of both task-oriented and leadership skills, volunteerism carries an added bonus—an opportunity for your student to meld his/her personal interests with work experience.
For example, a student who enjoys mentoring youth and aspires to become a psychologist might volunteer at community program for teens. Likewise, a student majoring in marketing who supports environment-friendly laws may want to contact companies, politicians and/or organizations that support "green" efforts to see about volunteer positions related to marketing.
Establishing Key Relationships
Professional contacts gained through mentoring and networking can help students with job and graduate/professional school opportunities. Encourage your student to seek out positions that can put him/her in contact with individuals who can mentor and/or introduce him/her to important associates. Having well-rounded volunteer experiences and key contacts in the field can lead students to job referrals, references and more.
Gaining Resume Material
Because volunteer activities offer solid work-oriented experience, they should be included on a resume along with other prominent career-related attributes. If your student has been involved in volunteerism, encourage him/her to highlight it as a source of skills and knowledge. Career experts encourage students to treat volunteerism as a form of work rather than something done as a side interest.
If your student is interested in volunteerism, he/she should contact his/her academic advisor, Career Services or the Office of Community Outreach.