One of the best ways to grow not only as a person but in your college career is by giving back to your community. Volunteering can be a great way to get involved, expand your abilities, add experience to your resume and help you prepare for the workforce.
Importance and benefits of volunteering
There are many reasons to be intentional about giving back to your community. Whether you want to uncover new interests or make personal discoveries that can help you make your next career move, volunteering allows you to:
- Make an impact. Volunteering impacts the communities you serve and helps shape the ways that community develops.
- Build skills. Volunteering can help you build and expand on skill sets. Depending on your volunteer role, you can often develop both technical skills (data analytics, design) and non-technical skills (customer service, problem solving, adaptability).
- Learn. Learn about the work organizations are taking on to make a difference in your community. You could explore your interests or discover new passions.
- Grow. It is an opportunity to learn and practice professional skills, including leadership, collaboration, group facilitation, communication and following directions. You will also gain experience working with people from different backgrounds, and working both independently and as a team.
- Build relationships. You have the chance to build key relationships with fellow volunteers. Program directors might end up being references or provide letters of recommendation in your future job search.
Highlighting your experiences in your job search
Whether you work with animals, help restore trails or volunteer at a food pantry, your experience can help you land your next job. Reflect on your volunteer experience and use that to prepare application materials and interview answers.
- Describe projects you assisted with as a volunteer and what you did to support the mission of organization.
- Talk about the impact of your volunteer experience for yourself and what you learned about the community.
- Use stories to share how your experience helped you build interpersonal skills. For example, rather than saying you are very organized in an interview, you could share how you helped organize a fundraising event and what the outcome was.
- Be honest about the experience: were there challenges you faced? What did you do to overcome the obstacles presented?
- Explain your ability to understand the importance of engaging in direct service to meet community needs, reflecting on your impact and how it helped prepare you to improve things for the future.
How to get started
Whether you want to join an organization or create your own volunteering opportunities, your time can make a difference. The Volunteer Resource Center (VRC) can help you explore opportunities to make an impact in your community. Their philosophy of learn, serve and reflect allows you to make meaning of your experience and identify how your experience has impacted your approach to community service. Browse the VRC’s Volunteer Calendar and Database or connect with the VRC to find opportunities that match your interests and your schedule.