April 15, 2011
“Real Life College Student” Blog: Be a Volunteer
Recently, the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA) called out to college and high students interested in blogging their college experiences and lessons learned in order to offer future students of higher education first hand facts and advice from today’s real life college setting. If you are a current college student or high school student preparing to enter college and are interested in blogging for UHEAA, please send an email to ‘email@example.com’ and we will gladly send you details.
The third installment in our “Real Life College Student” blog series is by Utah college student, Cole Spicker. Cole currently studies Chemistry and Spanish. He really enjoys reading, good food and great friends. He admits that he is a little obsessed with education and hopes to make lasting, positive contributions to society. We hope you enjoy this week’s blog on volunteering!
It’s that time of year again — and I’m not referring to taxes. In fact, you’d be surprised at all things to which I am not referring. April houses a myriad of events and activities through the supposed Spring-like atmosphere (unless it’s this year — I’ve seen more Facebook statuses talking about the weather than you’d hear in a chock-full old folk’s home). However, April is Brussels Sprout Month, Cranberries and Gooseberries Month, and yes — the IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) Month. No lies … and my apologies for the possibility of offense.
Among all these celebrations there remains one that particularly caught my eye: National Volunteer Week. I believe that, in the spirit of celebration, I ought to write a few remarks about service and volunteerism. A small portion dedicated to service or volunteerism on your resume does the same thing that meat slabs did to Lady GaGa … it beefs things up. Pun intended. So get out there, volunteer, and beef up that resume!
- Why Volunteer?
Realizing what drives you to volunteer will aid you in finding the perfect volunteer organization. Is it to be challenged or to make an impact? It is to share or develop a skill? Is it a desire to enhance your resume? Is it guilt? Some reasons may be better than others, but the bottom line is everyone can serve. However, the search to find a cause to which you could commit can be a difficult one. Varying organizations across the board are asking for minimum requirements of volunteers. If the match isn’t quite right, a volunteer usually becomes flakey and organizations have to make last-minute changes. Be sure to understand the commitment you are making.
- Stand Out From the Crowd
I remember when I was a freshman — A high school grad entering the world of coolness, beyond the boundaries of my hometown. I was too cool for school and haughty. I needed a good kick to the face. Regularly volunteering helped root me down, eliminated my feigned self-esteem, and shrunk my head size. Undergrads are infamously known for their superfluous self-confidence. A few times of expressing that dark side will land you nowhere. Professors and fellow classmates — and future employers — will distance themselves from those that have such demeanor, and soon you’ll find special opportunities to further your academic career will be out of reach. Volunteering will help you focus on others’ needs and help shape you as a team player in all aspects.
- Get Ready for the Workforce
On similar lines, volunteering prepares undergrads to work for free and to be happy with intrinsic rewards. However, student volunteers are compensated with experience, networking, and future job opportunities, to name a few. I know a handful of individuals who have volunteered in the past; while volunteering, various challenges arose that required troubleshooting skills. Fresh, new ideas popped into their brain and they have since started very successful businesses that have a basis with their volunteerism in college.
So, whatever it may be that encourages you to volunteer and to be of service, GO AND DO IT. Period. There are many organizations that need your help. You’ll be glad you offered yours. Volunteering is an investment with great returns. Not only will you help others, you will help yourself succeed.
If you have participated in a volunteer effort, please leave a comment below. I would really like to hear from you and maybe we can get some dialogue going! Thank you.