While you’re bettering yourself in college, why not improve your community by volunteering at a local organization? You’ll gain real world experience while improving the lives of your fellow citizens. It’s a great away to spend that extra free time you get during breaks and days off. There’s a myriad of opportunities right under your nose.
Before offering your services, figure out which cause means the most to you. Do you want to teach illiterate adults how to read so they can improve their lives? Join an adult teaching program. Do you want to help guide at-risk youth toward fulfilling their life’s potential? Join an after school program. Are you concerned about the well-being of animals? Join the Humane Society. Even if you’re unsure of what you want to do, your school likely provides an abundance of resources. Most colleges encourage their students to volunteer by collaborating with local volunteer agencies. Your school’s financial aid department, which is responsible for federal work study, can provide you with a comprehensive list of local organizations and the details pertaining to the jobs they need filled. You can perform a search of your own by browsing through local classified ads or craigslist.com. Also, consider the major national organizations with which you may already be familiar. United Way focuses “on the three key building blocks of education, income and health,” according to its website. If you’re in it for the long haul, join the Peace Corps and spend a few months overseas providing relief to a community in distress.
Whether you commit months to a cause or just a couple hours, you’ll find that it’s time well-spent. Along with the obvious benefits of positively contributing to society, you’re building character. When you include the details of your service on your resume, prospective employers will take notice. Volunteering shows that you’re a selfless individual with a broader life’s perspective than most of your peers. Your ability to interact with a diverse range of people from many different backgrounds will be useful in a variety of fields. Volunteering can double as work experience. If you’re an aspiring nurse who plans to spend the summer contributing your services to a hospital, you’ll have the chance to hone your skills as you become more familiar with the profession. Also, your social circle will expand as you make new friends with people who share your values and network with valuable members your community – not bad for a job for which you don’t get paid.