/Why You Should Volunteer

Why You Should Volunteer

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Academics, extra-curricular organizations, your part-time job: you may feel like you have plenty to do at college, but you should consider volunteering as well.

“Students who volunteer get additional experience outside the classroom,” said Catherine Farrell, community service coordinator at SUNY Oswego. “Later on in life, they’ll have more on their resume than classroom experience.”

Long before you’re ready for an internship, volunteering can help you learn how to work with others, time management, personal responsibility and many more useful skills.

“A lot of interviewers ask about a difficult time applicants had working with coworkers or where they showed leadership,” Farrell said. “This volunteering experience can give them a lot to pull from. Volunteering shows on your resume that you were doing something before you could have taken an internship.”

Farrell added that since volunteering increases students’ social network, volunteering may also help these students find an internship or employment as well. Maybe the leader of the nonprofit they help can tell them about a job opportunity in the desired field or know someone looking for interns. The volunteering venue doesn’t have to be perfectly aligned with what you hope to do someday.

If you are interested in volunteering, consider asking at your school’s outreach office. At Ferrell’s, her office can help pair students up with opportunities that last a few hours up to an entire semester. The former makes sense for students who may not have the time to dedicate many hours a week toward volunteering but still want to participate.

“Sometimes, different events happen on campus and a department will say, ‘I need three students for Friends and Family weekend or a bunch of high school kids will be visiting campus,’” Farrell said.

Anyone who signs up in advance for these kinds of opportunities can receive a weekly email for learning about volunteering openings. It may involve cleaning up and maintenance at Rice Creek, driving older adults who need a ride or helping in other ways both on campus and in the community.

“We always have other options that pop up sporadically,” Farrell said. “I will have nonprofits and organizations in the community that ask, ‘Are you interested in doing this with us?’”

You could also ask to help in the community at a cause you care about. United Way’s site — www.volunteercny.org — lists many organizations seeking assistance. With so many opportunities available, there’s no reason you shouldn’t lend a hand.

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