5 Reasons to Volunteer in College
It can be easy to dismiss volunteer work when life is hectic and you have to think about yourself first. With school, a job, friends, clubs, and potentially sports, you’ve got a lot on your plate. But volunteering can be mutually beneficial when you look at it from a completely different perspective.
Here are a few reasons to get out and volunteer while you’re in college:
1. You’ll Meet New People
Volunteering brings you into contact with new and different people—both your fellow volunteers and the people you’re working to help. These people can become a network, a support group, a new set of friends. Likely they will be of different ages and different backgrounds to you—they will almost certainly not be 100% college students aged 18-23.
College can be a bubble, and it’s valuable to leave that bubble and find different folks to share your time with. You never know what this community might lead to.
2. You’ll Learn New Things
Volunteering is a great way to gain skills and insights. It’s a way to find out what gives you energy and what you like to do. Try volunteering outside, with animals, with kids, with fund raising. Try working with different types of people or in different roles. You might very well discover talents or preferences that you never knew you had, and this knowledge might influence your future in a wide variety of ways, including in your career aspirations.
3. It Can Lead to New Opportunities
As mentioned above, volunteering brings new skills and a new network. Both because of this and because of how you can frame your volunteering experience on a resume, working as a volunteer can lead to concrete opportunities in the future. This might be scholarships, grants, research positions, respected paid internships, or jobs.
The resume potential of a volunteer position will vary based on who you are and what narrative you hope to create with that experience. In some situations, it might be best to show a long-lasting dedication to a particular group or organization. Another way to demonstrate commitment is to work in various positions all around the same cause or population served.
Volunteer experience can demonstrate leadership ability, innovation, dedication, and an understanding of your ability to impact other people in a positive way. It might also show that you can put your academic achievements into practice in the world—that you utilize your second language, interact with phenomena studied in sociology, political science, economics, or history. Conversely, it could prove that you have skills and interests not covered by your major, which will expand what jobs you might qualify for in the future.
4. Because It’s a Good Thing to Do
College is sort of designed as a self-centered time. The point of college is to develop as a human being, and to pursue learning and a credential which will improve your personal abilities and future potential.
This doesn’t exempt you from doing your best to be a positive presence in the larger world, or from taking actions which will improve the lives of those around you.
Whatever it is that interests you with volunteering—coaching kids’ sports, serving lunches in the soup kitchen, giving your time to a political or social cause, reading with senior citizens, shoveling your neighbor’s sidewalk, etc.—these activities are just as valuable while you’re a college student as they were when you were younger or will be when you’re older.
5. It’s Actually Fun
Volunteering should bring a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. It is also often fun in a real way—it allows you to have some interesting and exciting experience that you are choosing, and which satisfies some part of your desires and interests outside of your day-to-day life as a college student.