Why College Students Should Consider Volunteering

The Benefits of Pro Bono Working
Image courtesy of Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig.

Image courtesy of Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig.

More people are deciding to pursue higher education, and this is reflected in the expansion of your university campus, development of new study and laboratory spaces, and the ridiculous cost of annual tuition.

Because more people are pursuing higher education, a post-secondary degree may not be your one-way-ticket to a great career after all. If you are in a room with 100 other science graduates who are applying for a Research Assistant position at a laboratory (and you are a science graduate yourself), who is going to get that job?

Thesis projects, relevant courses taken, a stellar GPA, and related prior experience in a research laboratory undoubtedly make you an attractive candidate for science related career. But some grads may not have those experiences under their belts. Additionally, even students who have gained these opportunities may not be automatically guaranteed a job, since other science graduates may also possess the same qualifications and experiences.

Some students are quick to dismiss volunteer opportunities for a variety of reasons. Some would rather gain experience working (and making money). Some don’t have the time, while others simply don’t want to volunteer. Others may also see volunteering as an opportunity not relevant to their career path.

If you’re debating about seeking volunteer opportunities, consider some benefits affiliated with volunteering that are mentioned throughout this article.

Like work opportunities and internships, volunteering can be great, rewarding experiences. They may also be easier to come by, and certain opportunities may be more rewarding than those positions that offer monetary compensation.

Developing and Improving Personal Skills
Image courtesy of  Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig.

Image courtesy of Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig.

Depending on the opportunity, volunteering can also encompass many responsibilities that can help you develop certain skills, such as teamwork, organization, public speaking, and time management. Some positions may also require you to tackle a project by yourself or with others, which is a great opportunity to develop your leadership abilities and interpersonal skills.

Volunteering opportunities can also allow you to develop certain technical skills, which may serve great use for your future career. Developing budgets, learning MS Office Suite, compiling information, maintaining data, and statistical calculations are few of the many examples that certain volunteer opportunities can teach you.

Of course, these volunteer experiences would also look great on your resume and CV. There is also a possibility that these experiences would make you stand out compared to the rest of your competition.

Networking Opportunities
Image courtesy of Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig.

Image courtesy of Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig.

Volunteering can also present you with networking opportunities, especially if you are working in a team setting or contributing your time towards organizing a large event.   While volunteering, you are also potentially working with other volunteers who stem from different experiences, qualifications, and educational backgrounds, which give you a chance to diversify your professional network.

By developing and expanding your network, you are increasing your chances of interacting with others who are like-minded, and are affiliated with your career of interest. Strangers become acquaintances, which may evolve into meaningful relationships (or a potential employer).

What Volunteering Really Means

Despite these potential benefits, volunteering can allow you to contribute your skills towards helping others and fight for a cause that you believe in. We currently live in a bustling, busy world where we tend to wrap ourselves in our own business. We are constantly worried about our own tomorrow and how we’ll get by for the next few years. Volunteering can help us relieve some of that stressful thinking, forcing us to take a few steps back to see that our work can benefit others who are need.

For me, when I was a kid, volunteering was the last thing I was thinking about. When I see kids doing it now, it amazes me. It’s very impressive, it gives them something productive to do as opposed to getting in trouble. For them to take time out at such a young age is remarkable. I think all kids should take a little time out to volunteer. –Derek Jeter

Whether you are a practicing researcher, aspiring doctor, or a technologist of some sorts, it is important to consider that you are conducting your work in the name of science. Your work is more than just a means to earn your living; it is your contribution towards improving the lives of your fellow men.

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