Throughout the world, there are thousands of organizations that simply couldn’t function without the work of volunteers. Volunteers make a difference to their communities every day, caring for others and building strong relationships with community members.
Not only is volunteering good for others, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity for college students to build up their resumes and develop crucial career skills.
Volunteering means that when you begin to look for jobs, employers will see that you’ve been busy gaining valuable experience in the field, which makes you more valuable as an employee.
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But where to start?
I know of many instances where people have used their volunteering experiences on their resumes and as talking points in job interviews. Here are a few kinds of volunteer work opportunities to check out if you want to help others while building your own resume.
1. Volunteering in nature
For those who are concerned about the environment and are interested in conservation, there are plenty of opportunities for volunteering.
Depending on who you volunteer with, you could be cleaning up highways or rivers, or planting trees. Doing this kind of work gives you experience in leading projects and educating others in environmental issues, which is great if you want to boost a conservation-oriented resume.
This kind of volunteer work also helps build out your soft skills and can help you emphasize personality traits like being a good collaborator and communicator, or having experiences with problem solving. All of these skills are buzzwords that will perk up many potential employers – you just need to have real-world examples to back them up.
2. Volunteering in medicine
If you want to work in any branch of medicine, you will obviously have to put in many years of schooling. If you’re just starting out your college career and are unsure of the medical focus you’d like to take (do you want to develop new medicines, help people with emotional and mental disorders or work in an operating room?), volunteering can help you really get a feel for the kind of work you’re most suited for.
You can help in hospitals and nursing homes, learning how all the different facilities work with each other to make people’s lives better. You’ll also learn how important interacting with patients will be, and what kinds of hours different types of medical professional work.
Look up your local hospital or health care center and see if there are volunteering opportunities available. Many community hospitals could always use another set of helping hands, even if it’s just to help clean up.
When you include such experiences on your resume, potential employers (or grad school committees) will see that you have a genuine passion for the field, which can help you stand out from other applicants.
3. Volunteering in ministry
Volunteering with a missions group can encompass a wide range of fields, not just ministry alone.
You can teach English overseas, help establish churches or even work giving medical aid to impoverished communities. Student-oriented mission trips and internships are a fantastic way to gain experience in whatever field you have an interest in while also traveling and connecting with other, similarly-interested students.
Being able to say that you’ve traveled aboard is, in itself, a good way to catch a potential employer’s attention and market yourself a culturally-refined, worldly person. Add volunteer work into the mix and you’re likely to do very well applying for any kind of job that relates to travel or international work.
4. Volunteering with animals
If you’re an animal lover, this may be the volunteer project for you.
Volunteering at your local animal shelter could help you gain experience with how animals are cared for and treated when they have medical issues, which is invaluable if you’re considering going into the veterinary field.
If you want to work with more exotic creatures, volunteering at a zoo or exotic animal rescue facility is a good way to go. I had a friend back in high school who helped out with a local big cat rescue. He cleaned lion and tiger cages (without the big cats in them, of course) and learned about the work that goes into taking care of such creatures.
This kind of volunteer work can be emotionally taxing for some people (I, for example, get so sad when I see a dog with a broken leg that I’d probably be a terrible person to have working in a vet’s office). However, if you’re passionate about helping animals, this kind of work could be a great way to build out your resume, and is also good for emphasizing your soft skills.
5. Volunteering in social media
Surprisingly, there’s no shortage of volunteer opportunities in social media. While many college-aged students use social media as naturally as if they were born with a smartphone in their hands, lots of older business professionals don’t quite get it. Not only that, but they don’t have time to manage 10 different social media accounts while doing the rest of their daily work.
Whether it’s managing a Facebook page or writing blog posts, many organizations need an experienced hand managing their social media presence, and will gladly accept volunteer help.
You’ll gain experience in managing social media campaigns and you can even volunteer for an organization in a field related to your career interests. Not only will the volunteer experience look great on your resume, but you could also get a nice reference out of it.
As a busy student, it can be hard to fit volunteering into your already hectic schedule. It can also seem like an unnecessary hassle, especially as you’re not being paid for your time.
However, volunteering is an investment into your future. Putting in some volunteer time now can mean a leg up into your dream career later. That, and helping others out, is very much its own reward.
Get involved today, and see where volunteering takes your resume.