Benefits of Volunteering During College
Between school, work, a social life, and all the little things that are expected of us college students, volunteering is often towards the back of the to-do list. However, you should really try making time to volunteer. It will be worth it because it will expand on your experiences, enhance your resume, and possibly inspire you with a new passion or friend.
Employers love to see volunteer work on your resume, not to mention the career benefits of volunteering like developing new skills and references. Volunteering can also be a blast. You meet new people and get to test out your areas of interest. Helping others makes you feel better about yourself and your community. Getting involved in a cause is a fantastic way to meet people of like minds and broaden your horizons.
I suggest you find no more than two places to volunteer and then really commit to those places. If you love dogs, don’t volunteer for all four of the animal shelters within driving distance. Pick one and volunteer for them over and over. This allows you to get to know the staff and what is expected of you. Both of these things will make the work more enjoyable. They will also give you a better reference when future employers call to ask about you. One great recommendation is better than four okay ones.
Where to Volunteer
Where you volunteer should depend on what you want to get out of it. If you want to help the community and get a basic resume boost, try a food pantry or homeless shelter. If you want to further your career, look for places within your industry. If you just want to make friends then go for an animal shelter or children’s camp. Wherever you decide to volunteer, make sure you are actually helping and not just killing time or hanging out.
Look at your hobbies and passions. Can you spend time volunteering within those? Think about your future career. Volunteering is a marvelous way to get your foot in the door and network while gaining experience. If you are feeling brave, look at the stuff you are curious about. Hands-on is the best way to learn.
Animal shelters, parks, schools, churches, food pantries, senior centers, the YMCA, Red Cross, libraries, museums, political campaigns, scouting organizations, and hospitals could all use your help.
There are also several websites dedicated to finding the perfect opportunity for you. Volunteermatch.org is probably my favorite, but by all means, explore the vast internet and find the best fit for you. Don’t be afraid to ask around in person, either.
Ultimately, volunteering should be unique to you. That being said, invite your friends! Volunteering with others is more fun and volunteering should be fun and educational. So go find a great fit for you and volunteer. You will be glad you did.
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