Jun 18, 2012

More Ways Community Service Opens Doors

Brandeis Doors
While finalizing summer plans, don’t forget to leave quality time for volunteer activities or projects. Incorporating service into your life is incredibly rewarding and almost always habit-forming. In fact, it can open doors for life.

As you consider various volunteer options, look for opportunities that fit you—your interests and skills. You don’t have to travel across the world—look local. You can be deeply involved in a one-time event or you can sign-on for a couple of hours each week. It really doesn’t matter.

And yes, it pays off handsomely. By sharing your time and talent with others, you:
  • Do some good. As a volunteer, you have the opportunity to make a difference—change lives, support a cause, or improve your community.

  • Test-drive career options. If you’re thinking about medicine, teaching, or even large animal husbandry, spend volunteer hours in a clinic, a school or on a farm. Community service presents different vistas and provides opportunities to explore different career paths.

  • Polish job-readiness skills. Being dependable, on time, and responsible will not only make you a great volunteer but will also prepare you for entering the world of work. In addition, you can develop communication, organization, and invaluable “people” skills, all of which make you incredibly employable.

  • Expand your network. Volunteering is a great way to make new friends and build solid connections to businesses, schools, or other community-based organizations. These are the kinds of relationships that tend to grow and blossom, particularly if you find yourself working in a team or supporting a cause.

  • Get a recommendation: A byproduct of the volunteer experience can be a strong personal recommendation for college, scholarships, or future employment. While teachers and guidance counselors can speak of academic and school-based accomplishments, your best character references will come from among supervisors and co-workers in organizations to which you contributed volunteer hours.

  • Challenge your comfort zone. If life as a high school student has become a little boring and predictable, try volunteering in a totally unfamiliar part of your community or serving a population with which you don’t ordinarily come into contact. Expose yourself to new ideas, challenges and situations that will help you grow as a person.

  • Enhance scholarship opportunities.  Although service to others should be its own reward, there’s no question that many colleges, organizations, foundations, and businesses are willing to acknowledge outstanding community service by awarding very generous scholarships. Winners of these awards
    typically begin early and dedicate significant hours throughout their high school careers.

  • Hone leadership skills. As a volunteer, you may be presented with opportunities to build supervisory, management, or decision-making skills as a team leader or project organizer. These are talents that colleges, scholarship organizations, and future employers value highly.

  • Upgrade college portfolio. Yes, colleges want to see that you’ve done something more with your summer than texting or posting pictures on Facebook. To volunteer is to give strong evidence of character, commitment, and motivation—all of which are pluses in the college admissions process.

  • Discover an essay topic. The best college essays flow from personal experience. In fact, essay questions often ask about significant achievements, events, or people—all of which may be found in the act of volunteering.

  • Learn something. You learn by doing. And if you’re lucky, you may even be offered specific skill training you can take with you long after the event or project is completed.

  • Do some good. This cannot be overstated.

In her commencement address at Virginia Tech, Michelle Obama reminded the Class of 2012 that “…often, it is only through serving others that we find what’s been missing in our own lives.”

And at St. Mary’s College of Maryland last year, Deputy Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet pointed out that, “We grow by challenging ourselves—by stepping out of our comfort zone.” She added, “…the more you understand about the community around you, the more you understand about yourself….More than that, inevitably, you realize you got far more than you gave.”.”

So step up and get involved. You really can make a difference!

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