As college students return to campus, this is the right moment to think about volunteer opportunities that will help enhance resumes and future job prospects.
While many students are laser-focused on classes and prospecting for paid internships, college freshman and sophomores and high school students would be wise to seek out relevant volunteer experiences now that will catch the eye of future employers and college admissions staff.
From high school through college and throughout your career, volunteer efforts will:
Increase Career Prospects. Volunteering can increase your odds of employment by 27%, according to the Corporation for National Community Service. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteering can increase your odds of employment by a whopping 27%.
Fill In Specific Resume Experience Gaps. Volunteering for nonprofits can provide hands-on experiences that might take years to make happen in full-time jobs.
Build Broader Networks. As a first-generation college student, volunteering helped expand my network in college and upon graduation. That network continued to expand through the wide number of volunteer efforts once I began my career.
Fulfill Purpose Driven Goals. Not all early career jobs permit us to have jobs that we might consider purpose driven, so volunteering for good causes provides that need.
Beef Up College Applications. High school students enhance their college applications by noting meaningful volunteer activities.
Friend Making. Almost all of my volunteer activities over the years have broadened my network of friends who share similar life and career interests. Today, we support each other’s causes and continue building personal and professional networks.
Case in Point: Pavitra Reddy
Over the years, I’ve noticed that PRSSA leaders have done an especially good job managing their studies while building impressive resumes. One such leader is DePaul University senior Pavitra Reddy. Besides being an honors student, Pavitra serves as president of DePaul’s PRSSA chapter while interning in Zeno Group’s Chicago office.
Pavitra agrees the best time to get involved in campus and job-relevant activities is at the start of the academic year.
“Volunteering at conferences, community organizations, and even on-campus can be a key way to give back to your community and gain career skills.” Pavitra says. “Doing so offers a broader perspective on the opportunities that are available to you both in PR and outside the field.”
When asked recently to help line up some volunteers for the annual Page Society conference in Chicago this fall, Pavitra immediately raised her hand. Within 24 hours, she lined up five other volunteers. She’s now arranging additional volunteers for the annual Page Up conference in October.
Such volunteer experiences provide students with amazing real-world opportunities while expanding their visibility and networks.
“Along with meeting new people and making connections, you also get to apply leadership, problem-solving, and time management skills to real-life situations outside of the classroom,” Pavitra notes. “It can be a win-win situation for students and organizations if more students are involved and volunteering within their communities.”
For more detail information about the how-to and value of volunteering, check out the Study.com resources guide to college student volunteering.