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Volunteering With Purpose For College Students
Today’s post is written by Joseph Baker. He graduated from Indiana University and holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management. He has helped with the National Students Against Hunger Campaign, an organization that is committed to ending hunger and homelessness in America. Today he coordinates two blogs: The Professional Intern Blog and Eat Breathe Blog and volunteers for soup kitchens, inner city organizations, and church activities in his spare time.
There’s something special about college students volunteering. Maybe it’s the mix of the young working with the old or even the young working with the very young, but whatever the spark, there’s definitely a glow around the very idea.
Many college students who have a willingness to become politically active or become active in school clubs find similar urges to volunteer. However, if they make it to a point where they actually begin serving, they often find themselves using skills they’re learning to advance their organization’s goals.
Often, students will find they’re actually able to get an internship credit out of their experience if they’re able to directly relate their service with their studies. Students who work full time and are attending an online school may find that it’s an easier way to get an internship since non-profits are used to working around various schedules. The millennial generation is gaining momentum using skills-based volunteering as an innovative approach that is rapidly gaining recognition as a powerful driver of both social impact and business value.
Journalism and public relations students are always in high demand because of their skills with writing press releases, reaching the media and organizing events. These students can gain valuable portfolio pieces while significantly increasing their organization’s presence in the community. Human Resources students can organize volunteer drives and organizations as well.
Technology students, as well as any students with a little web design knowledge, are in a great place to teach others their skills and help their organizations grow. Many nonprofits still don’t have even basic free Wordpress sites set up yet. What would take a technology student a few hours would take some nonprofit owners weeks or months to figure out. One student taking the time to pitch in and help their community can mean the difference between an easily found web page and someone in need not being able to find them.
People studying for a teaching program or a science or math-focused degree should consider tutoring at-risk children. The potential for a child to be inspired and encouraged by working with an older student is tremendous. College students can relate to their academic struggles easier, and thus children can relate to the college students more readily.
Anyone in a management or leadership position is in a prime position to work with non-profit directors and pick up some valuable ideas. Leaders are perhaps the hardest mentors to find since they’re often working with sensitive employee information. Non-profit leaders are more likely to be more open and take more time with students who are actively assisting them and trying to learn.
For students who are unaware of where to start their search for a volunteer program in their area AmeriCorps is a great place to start. Programs offer an education stipend at the end of a successfully completed term. Different programs offer different amount of hours, but many times you can pick the amount of hours you’re interested in doing and then let you set how long of a time period you’ll have to complete those hours.
Whatever route you choose, be sure that you can contribute to your chosen non-profit as much as you can. You have valuable skills, and many organizations can benefit greatly from your education and experience.