Tonight I want to talk to you all about the act of volunteering in college. It is a very important aspect of most college campuses and is a requirement at some. During my Freshmen year of college, we were required to complete 60 hours of community service. Luckily, they had a Community Service Fair during Orientation to help us find an organization to work with. But, if your university doesn't have a Volunteer Fair, here are some ideas for finding the right organization for you.
On-Campus Clubs - Check out your college's listing of clubs and organizations, some of them offer some great community service opportunities. A lot of universities have a chapter of Circle K, which is a service organization affiliated with the Kiwanis Club. They offer so many different opportunities to volunteer in the community and with other on-campus organizations. Also, check out the Relay for Life Club on campus, the Key Club, or the Lion's Club to find even more chances to volunteer. These organizations also allow for potential leadership positions in your university's chapter and the national chapter!
Event Volunteers - No matter the size of the campus you attend, there will be events happening that you can help with. These can range from conferences and Welcome Weekend to concerts and sporting events. Whatever your niche may be, find an event that fits your interest and that you will enjoy doing. During my undergrad, I helped with our Reunion Weekend during the summer and I also was a Big Events Volunteer for on-campus concerts. Both had their own perks and I enjoyed them while still being able to boost my resume and gain more experience!
Local Schools - If you are an Education major, this is a GREAT chance to gain experience, really boost your resume, and help out other teachers. Once you have all of your clearances completed and your fingerprinting done, you can tutor within a school district. I know that elementary teachers especially are always looking for an extra hand in the classroom and if this is your area of interest, then definitely pursue it. Also, if you have already completed Freshmen field work or a student teaching experience, use your rapport with those students to continue volunteering with that teacher.
Churches and Youth Groups - Whether you consider yourself Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist ... whichever divine figure you believe in, you can always volunteer at a local place of worship. You can end up working in the soup kitchen, the food pantry, youth group, or teaching Sunday School. No matter what it is, the church members will be grateful that you are volunteering your time and helping them. (They can also become a great support system to you throughout your four years in college.)
Social Organizations - There are also community service experiences available to you in your college town or in a neighboring city. If you are a political or social rights activist, this would be a great route to get out in the college's community and gain connections. These organizations could be Planned Parenthood, Rape Crisis, the Republican Council, or a special interest group in the area. If you can relate these organizations to a career or an area that you would be interested in learning more about, then try out volunteering to get a better idea of the environment.
These suggestions can help you give back to your college campus and your college's community, while still gaining more experience and helping you grow your career. The good thing about volunteering is that if you don't particularly like the experience after trying it, once the commitment is finished, you don't have to go back and you can find another organization to help.
As we approach the season of giving, I hope you think about adding some volunteer efforts into your schedule and give back to your community!
"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." - Gandhi
enjoy the chase,