Services Activities Foster Career Preparation

Without lessening the intrinsic and rewarding benefits of volunteerism, students are encouraged to view their efforts as a means of career preparation that includes job sampling, skill building, networking and more. Whether your student favors humanitarian, political, civic and/or environmental causes, there are numerous opportunities available on campus, in the community or via corporations. The benefits include:

Sampling career choices

Similar to informational interviews or job shadowing, volunteer experiences facilitate career exploration. Whether your student is majoring in the humanities, sciences or social sciences, he/she can benefit from volunteer opportunities. For freshmen and sophomores, these initiatives can lay the groundwork for internship possibilities as upperclassmen.

Gaining practical skills

Like any real world experience, volunteer positions can include project planning and coordination as well as challenges and successes—encounters that can help a student gain confidence in his/her abilities to be creative, to problem-solve and to exercise leadership.

In addition to promoting the acquisition of task-oriented and leadership skills, volunteerism carries an added bonus—an opportunity for your student to meld his/her personal interests with work experience.

For example, a student who enjoys mentoring youth and aspires to become a psychologist might volunteer for a community program. Likewise, a student majoring in marketing who supports environment-friendly laws may want to contact companies, politicians and/or organizations that support green efforts to see about volunteer positions related to marketing.

Establishing key relationships

Professional contacts gained through mentoring and networking can help your student with job and graduate/professional school opportunities. Encourage your student to look for positions that can put him/her in contact with individuals who can mentor and/or introduce your student to important associates. These key contacts can lead to job referrals, references and more.

Building resume material

Because volunteer activities offer solid work-oriented experience, they should be included on a resume along with other prominent career-related attributes. If your student has been involved in volunteerism, encourage him/her to highlight it as a source of skills and knowledge. Career experts encourage students to treat volunteerism as a form of work rather than something done as a side interest.

Looking for Volunteer Opportunities?

BW has resources that can help your student. These include Career Services, Community Outreach and your student's academic advisor.