December 10th, 2010
College is a time when you’re supposed to experience immense personal growth. It’s about more than just an academic education — it’s about becoming a well-rounded individual who excels in life. In order to facilitate such growth, your full commitment is required. That means participating in supplementary activities that’ll cause you to get off your butt, step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Volunteering is a popular activity among college students because it inspires the aforementioned behavior.
Superficially, volunteering serves as a resume enhancer. It’s a way to set yourself apart from your fellow students who may not have gone the extra mile to get involved while in college. Employers like it because it shows the applicant has character and they’re willing to give their time for something greater than their self. It also can build skills that are useful on the job, such as communication, teamwork and leadership.
Where you volunteer is entirely up to you, so you should carefully select an organization that fights for a cause in which you believe. For example, if you love animals and want to ensure their safety and health, join an animal welfare organization. If you want to ensure low income families have a place to live, join Habitat for Humanity. If your father is a survivor of prostate cancer, help fundraise to find a cure. The work will be more fulfilling and the feeling of satisfaction will be greater if you have or have had a dog in the fight. Once you see the end result, you’ll know it was well-worth it.
Volunteering also forces you to see the world without any filters. We have a tendency to immerse ourselves with our own insignificant problems, and in the meantime, lose perspective. Failing an exam, for example, doesn’t hold a candle to losing your minimum wage job when you have two kids to feed. At the same time, it makes you grateful for what you do have and thus work harder to remain successful.
If you’re interested in volunteering, visit your school’s career services department and see if they collaborate with local organizations — you can even get paid for your services if you’re participating in Work-Study. For organizations not affiliated with your school, peruse through Volunteer Match. Volunteers are always in need, so you’re sure to find a place in which to contribute.