Your time is precious. Many college students, especially in the online classroom, are tasked with keeping up with their studies while holding down a full-time job. So, when I tell you that volunteer work can be the essence to a fulfilled collegiate career, you may think, “Who has the time?”
Trust me; I thought the same thing in college. Even now as a full-time professor, wife, and mother, I thought I couldn’t make it happen—but I did! And the best part? I have taken away only positive experiences, new knowledge, and relationships out of my volunteer experiences, and I have no regrets.
The sky's the limit when it comes to these opportunities and there are so many amazing benefits. In college, I started with small volunteer opportunities and now have become quite active as a board chair for a nonprofit with a humanitarian focus. As you have probably heard people say, volunteering is not only rewarding but it is an excellent addition to any résumé. Of course, it is not just about the résumé but also about the amazing experiences and people you meet on the journey that will last a lifetime.
No matter what your degree program is, there is rewarding work available. Here are four opportunities to consider, depending on your availability and your degree program.
1. Short commitments
Where to look: Organizations in your hometown that need volunteers for special events or on weekends, especially during a school break. For example, the Special Olympics.
Who should volunteer: Students with tight schedules who can’t commit to a long or far away opportunity. This type of work can be valuable to students who study nonprofit management, public administration, occupational therapy, and more.
2. Opportunities that work well with your studies
Where to look: Organizations that support your interests or degree, and allow for flexibility in your program. For example, there is an amazing nonprofit called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms with farms in Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and even Oceania. WWOOF volunteers can live and eat for free on the farm they choose for a week up to a year if they like.
Who should volunteer: Students who are looking for affordable opportunities that don’t add to the financial burden of getting a degree. Also, WOOF volunteer work is perfect for a student studying nonprofit management or global tourism and sustainable economic development, among others.
3. Opportunities in another country
Where to look: With many different options for internships and volunteer work, there is something for everyone in a variety of different locations. A great organization to consider is Cross-Cultural Solutions.
Who should volunteer: Students who want to go abroad. Volunteer work abroad could benefit students from virtually any degree program, but might be specific to students studying travel and tourism and international business, among others. Ask your academic advisor if there is a way to combine a study abroad experience with volunteer experiences for course credit.
4. Administrative opportunities
Where to look: Check out organizations that need help with phone calls and fundraising. A new nonprofit, SunRise Forever Inc., is a humanitarian nonprofit focused on helping underprivileged children in Liberia, West Africa, through raising money to distribute backpacks and school supplies. They always need volunteers to help prepare for their annual fundraiser.
Who should volunteer: Students looking to volunteer time making phone calls, helping with websites and social media, or participating in annual fundraisers. This type of work could benefit students studying nonprofit management, business, or entrepreneurship, among others.
As you can see, there is a plethora of volunteer opportunities for anyone and everyone. There are local and global opportunities, all which can set your résumé apart from others.
For more suggestions on volunteer or leadership opportunities, contact the Student Involvement and Leadership department at Johnson & Wales.