Volunteer Opportunities: Helping Others Can Help You*
Volunteering has a meaningful, positive impact on your community. But did you know that it can have many benefits for you, too?
You may have heard that volunteering helps you get into college, but keep in mind they're not just looking for a list of organizations and dates. Colleges want to see a complete picture of you, and real examples of your commitment, dedication, and interests.
Reasons to Volunteer
Gain Valuable Life Experiences and Skills
Whether you build houses for the homeless or mail flyers for a local politician, you'll experience the real world through hands-on work. You can use this experience to explore your major or career interests.
Meet Interesting People
Volunteering brings together a variety of people. Both the recipients of your volunteer efforts and your co-workers can be rich sources of insight. For example, maybe you'll learn about the legal profession from a former lawyer you visit at a convalescent center.
Get Academic Credit
Some schools offer academic credit for volunteer work through service-learning. This is a teaching method that integrates hands-on learning (through service to the community) into the school curriculum. It's available in high schools and colleges, as well as in earlier grades. To find out if your school offers service-learning, visit the Learn and Serve America website.
Send a Signal to Colleges
Colleges pay attention to your life inside and outside the classroom. Your extracurricular activities reveal a great deal about you, such as what your interests are, whether you can manage your priorities and maintain a long-term commitment, what diversity you'd bring to the student body, and how you've made a meaningful contribution to something.
Keep in mind, colleges are not interested in seeing you do it all. It's more meaningful to colleges to see your dedication to one or two causes or activities than to see that you've spread yourself thin.
Volunteering has many other intangible benefits. It can help you give back to society, break down barriers of misunderstanding or fear, explore personal issues, and even have fun.
"Community service, which was required at my high school, was a big wow with interviewers. It's even better if you can match your service with your career interest. For example, volunteer at a hospital if you're planning on med school," says Faith, a college student.
How to Get Involved
There are many people, places, and organizations that need volunteers. Here are some tips for getting started:
Look around your community and in the phone book to see what programs are there. Call and ask if they need help.
Visit your city or town website. It may list volunteer opportunities in your community.
Contact your local United Way, cultural arts association, student organization, or another association that can point you in the right direction.
Ask your library, church or synagogue, and/or community colleges if they sponsor any volunteer groups.
Check out the following websites to learn more about causes and to find volunteer opportunities near you.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Volunteer
It's important that you enjoy the type of service you choose and that you have the time to stick with it. Ask yourself these questions before you commit to an organization.
How much time do I have to commit?
Do I want an ongoing regularly-scheduled assignment, a short-term assignment, or a one-time assignment?
Am I willing to participate in a training course or do I want to start my volunteer work immediately?
Which talents or skills do I offer?
What would I most like to learn by volunteering?
What don't I want to do as a volunteer?
Do I want to work alone or with a group?
With what kind of people do I want to work—both in terms of who is receiving my services and who my co-workers might be?
Please contact our new coordinator for information about volunteer opportunities in our community.
Robert J. Wargo Jr, Volunteer Director
email@example.com or Ext. 113
Phone: (203) 378-2606