Many high schools have volunteer service requirements that students have to meet in order to graduate. But the volunteering doesn’t have to stop after high school graduation. Here are some ways to find volunteer opportunities in college.
Certain classes might have service-learning requirements. This should be apparent in the class overview and syllabus. You receive a list of places where you can volunteer. Because it is a class requirement, the amount of time you are required to contribute will likely not exceed the amount of time you are expected to spend on classwork outside of the classroom. However, you can always volunteer whatever extra time you have if you enjoy the work. Classes like this are probably in departments such as Human Relations, Psychology, and Social Work.
University / Local Hospitals
One place you can almost always look for volunteer work is in a hospital or clinic. From my own experience, you will have to contact Volunteer Services (you can always start by asking the front information desk for where that might be). They’ll probably make sure all your vaccinations are up to date. Once a volunteer, you will be called on to see to patients’ needs. This might include: helping patients around the hospital, visiting the gift shop for them, or helping them get food.
This would be where you look if you want to volunteer as a peer tutor. Some colleges and universities have links for community outreach programs (such as branches of Habitat for Humanity). Lists of opportunities might also appear on the school’s HR website. If you can’t find a specific link, typing “volunteer opportunities” into the search bar on your school’s website usually brings something up.
If your school is well-integrated with the surrounding city or town, you can also check the city website. Local animal shelters are usually looking for volunteers. There are also often youth or after-school programs that are in need of people. If there aren’t volunteer opportunities within the school, there’s definitely something close by.
The Benefits of Volunteering
It might be that your high school volunteer requirements were not the most memorable. You were just doing it because you had to. However, there are quite a few reasons that volunteering can be beneficial to you as well as those you are helping.
Volunteering in the true sense of the word–freely giving your time and effort to help someone else–can have a positive boost to your self-esteem. It can also lessen stress. There are many things that you have to do in college, and often what you have to do is not what you want to do. Giving yourself the time to do something that you want to do is a great way to help yourself, even as you help others.
Volunteering is a great way to explore career paths. If you are thinking of working with Greenpeace after college, it’s good to work with some local organizations with similar goals to see if you enjoy the work. It’s also great if you’re considering a profession where you work with people (such as nursing or social work). Sometimes the thought of those careers seems wonderful, but you realize it is not ideal for you. Or perhaps volunteering sets you on a career path that you had never even considered. By giving yourself the time to explore, you can help yourself discover what you want.
Committing time to volunteer organizations looks great on a resume. One thing companies look for is how long you can stay committed to a job or organization. Another is getting experience in the field you are applying to. If you spent over a year volunteering with a group, that shows dedication and reliability. It also opens up the pool of people you can request referral letters from, which is particularly useful if you didn’t work during college.