No Job? No Internship? Volunteer!

May 27, 2014

Summer is almost here. Don’t have a summer job or internship lined up? Why not offer your services as a volunteer? A new study out from UnitedHealth Group and the Optum Institute found that more than three-quarters of adults who volunteered said doing so made them feel more healthy. An overall 94 percent of individuals surveyed said volunteering put them in a better mood.

For soon-to-be and recent college students, volunteering has additional benefits over just building up endorphins and making you feel healthier, offering your services as a volunteer can also bulk up your resume and help you stand apart from other job candidates or school recruiters.

Especially during a tight job market and recession, employers are looking more and more favorably upon candidates who have put in volunteer hours during their spare time. A recent LinkedIn study found that 41 percent of hiring managers found volunteer experience as valuable as paid work.

So what are the most popular types of volunteer work for college students? The Corporation for National & Community Service found that education and youth service organizations are often the top pick for college-age volunteers, with about 31.6 percent of this demographic of volunteers offering their services in these fields. The second most popular category of volunteer work for college students was with religious organizations, with about 23.4 percent of volunteers devoting their work in these areas. Social and community service ranked third at 16.3 percent and hospital and healthcare came in fourth at 10.5 percent.

Here are some tips to remember when considering volunteer opportunities:

–          Do your research and see what types of volunteer opportunities are available in your area. Check out www.volunteer.gov  to see what’s available.

–          A great way to make the most out of your volunteer work is to find a role where you can utilize skills you hope to use in school or your future profession or schoolwork. If you plan to go into the medical field, look for roles in the medical community or at your local hospital. If you want to work with computers, find a volunteer position that uses your technology skills.

–          Ask friends about potential volunteer opportunities and make use of campus connections including fraternities, sororities and alumni. These organizations often have special causes they support and are always looking for people to volunteer.

–          Don’t overcommit yourself. Make sure you have enough time in your schedule to allow yourself to volunteer the number of hours required to get the most out of the opportunity.

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/panationalguard/