Service Reflections: Tips for Faculty and Students

Posted by Dr. Kristin Joos and Liz Harlan on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 @ 09:47 AM

Empowering NobleLeaders: Service Reflections

Thank you for joining us for another “Empowering NobleLeaders” Blog with Dr. Kristin Joos and Liz Harlan.

Reflection in life, especially when positive, is almost always beneficial. The act of reflection can increase feelings of self-perception personal purpose, and community awareness, as well as increase understanding as to one's role in the greater community. We would like to share with you the importance of reflection on service experiences and offer some insight for both faculty and students on how to do service reflections.  Reflection is an integral component of volunteer service.

While a student is volunteering, the service experience can become more meaningful through constant questioning of motivations, asking why one is helping, and keeping those ideas at the forefront of their mind. A student may maintain their motivation to help by keeping track of both the work they do, as well as their initial and ongoing reactions to their service activities. Reflection before, during, and after a service experience is key, to set goals, and to remember and document observations, emotions, and activities. The most important reflection may come after when the student connects their individual experience to the bigger picture, whether it’s a wider community or national/international issue, cultural or environmental cause, or institutional motive. With reflection and further research, a student will gain deeper understanding of oneself, their community, and society. The more one reflects on their volunteer experiences, the more one knows what they like, dislike, and can identify personal strengths. Additionally, students can then use their service reflections to decide how to channel their experiences into greater action or next steps, which can be beneficial both for the individual (e.g., explore new passions or possible career choices) and the community (e.g., organizing one river clean-up to be an ongoing project with other students and community members in the area). 

How to do Service Reflections: 

For students volunteering, it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day routine. As you begin to look back on your work, here are some helpful ways to take stock and connect to the bigger picture. 

Get started with three easy questions:

What? So what? and Now what? These questions are commonly paired with community service to help participants think about how to channel their experiences into action or next steps. Answer them on your own or with other volunteers. 

What? 

How would you describe the actual work you’ve been doing? What different types of situations have you been involved in and learned from? Whether it’s playing with kids or talking to an elderly person or filing hospital records, describe your day-to-day work. 

So What? 

What did these actions mean? Who did they impact? How did they impact you? How did they affect the community you worked with? How did they contribute to the larger impact your organization (or you) is making? 

Now what? 

Now that you’ve done your service, what are you going to do next? Are there other channels of involvement? What else would you like to know about your site or issue? How will you take this experience and put it to use helping others? What ripple effect will your experiences make for yourself and others? 

How to promote service reflections and service learning for faculty: 

Reflection is a key component of service learning in and out of the classroom. It can be accomplished in many different avenues that students can choose for themselves to fit their learning and creative styles. Encourage students to explore these styles and decide how they would like to record and reflect on their volunteer experience

Each time a student volunteers, it is beneficial to take a few minutes to make notes about what they did, what they learned, and how the experience impacted them. These notes will be useful for future reflecting on experiences as well as for possible use in creating a final presentation for a class. NobleHour has an work reflection tool for students exactly for this purpose.  

Engaging in conversation with others (e.g., friends, professors, family) to explain what the student has been doing and why it is important to them is another way to reflect. With a volunteer supervisor’s permission, a student may be able to take photos and document their adventures in service (there may be strict rules requiring permission and releases) and use these visuals later for reflection and sharing. NobleHour enables students to share their photos, videos, and reflections using the Contribute and Share tool.  Faculty members should encourage student reflection.

One of the main goals of service learning is that students will continue or expand upon their community service even after the final project is done. If students are interested in learning more about their cause or organization, people at the volunteer site are great resources for other contacts and groups that are doing similar work and organizing similar events. 

To maximize the service learning curriculum, components of reflection throughout the semester for students should be interspersed in the syllabus. Class discussion, journal entry writing, online posts, article critiques on surrounding service topics, and a final demonstration or project of the students’ volunteer experiences are wonderful and diverse ways to get students engaged and thinking about their experiences.  

Teachers can guide students' reflection processes in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to: discussion, role play, and journaling

Students are encouraged to reflect on their experience and:

  • Describe what happened.
  • Examine the difference made.
  • Discuss thoughts and feelings.
  • Place experience in a larger contect.
  • Consider project improvements.
  • Generate ideas.
  • Identify questions.
  • Encourage comments from partners and recipients.
  • Receive feedback.

To fulfill one of her global health minor requirements in college, Liz took a course called Core Issues in Global Health: Community Health Practice for Refugees. The professor employed a Community Based Service Learning syllabus guideline which included student-led discussions, lectures, presentations, several community guest speakers, papers, posters, and a community engagement project. The class concluded with each student creating a material (paper, art, video, or article) that described their community refugee experience and also would benefit the organization. The professor made it a class requirement to get out into the surrounding community and see for themselves the information they learned about. Liz's work as an after school tutor with Fugee’s Family outside of Emory every week for one semester created meaning for the statistics and health disparities they were learning about for refugee populations in America. She is now able to look back over her paper and final project, and remember how engaged she felt both in class and with the young refugee soccer players at the Fugee’s school house. 

Service learning and service reflections are valuable student and teacher tools and provide numerous opportunities for personal growth and community service. The more these ideas and actions are incorporated into classrooms, from K-12 to higher education, the better students, communities, and the world will be.

Tune in next time for a discussion of the power of volunteering in diverse environments and with diverse people.

 

"Writing in the Rapids" by Julie Jordan Scott is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Topics: service learning, volunteering, experience, abroad, community engagement, outreach, higher ed, high school, community service, engaged learning, learning strategies, community connections, alternative spring breaks, reflection

How Service-Learning Engages Students

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Thu, Nov 14, 2013 @ 11:30 AM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo.

Service-learning is something I’m involved in on a daily basis. I find that sometimes students and parents are ill-informed on the distinction between volunteerism and service-learning, and this can lead to confusion.  A common misconception is that service-learning is just an impressive way of saying volunteerism. Luckily, the concept is both easy to follow and implement once it is understood.  The National Service-Learning Clearinghouse gives a very comprehensive definition of service-learning: “Service-Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.” What sets service-learning apart is its connection to education.  Service-learning is about applying skills and knowledge learned in the classroom to real-life experiences that benefit the community.  

Accounting students at the University of Texas at Austin are engaging in service-learning by filing tax returns for low-income residents (Source: What Really Counts in a Service-Learning Accounting Class).  In Accounting 366P, students learn how federal tax codes work.  They also study issues affecting low-income residents such as “socio-economic issues, housing and immigration policy, and economic development.”  Then the practice what they have learned by partnering with a nonprofit called the Community Tax Center to help low-income families get the most out of their tax return.  Instructor Brian Lendecky says that, “The most important part of the learning process is actually applying your trade.”  In this class, students learned information vital to their careers, applying that knowledge, and helping members of the community. Business students engage in service-learning by helping with tax preparations.

Many students recount that the best lessons came from the stories they heard from their clients.  When completing their 55-hour service requirement for the course, they engaged in the very issues they’d heard about in their lectures.  One student describes a single mother who put six children through college debt-free.  This type of determination can’t be taught in books; it has to be found in experience.  Another remembers a woman who was hearing impaired and needed her mother to translate.  This prompted the student to learn sign language so he could communicate with more people.  In one year, 200 students filed 18,310 tax returns and helped get their clients over $31 million in returns.  This is much-needed money for families to pay bills, buy groceries, and pay off debts.  What the students gain from the course is not just how to file tax returns, but the power to use their knowledge to elevate others.

In Morris, Minn., students are completing a service-learning project that will help to restore local history.  These students are getting down in the dirt—literally—in some eerie places, but they are doing it for the right reasons.  Lead by University of Minnesota Morris Associate Professor of Anthropology, Rebecca Dean, students will be excavating, cataloging and restoring a local cemetery that has been destroyed.  The cemetery holds immense importance to local history.  The Boerners’ family plot of 12 graves dates back to the late 1800s.  The site ties back to the pioneers who originally settled in the area.  As part of this project, students will be using the archeological skills they have studied in class to gain hands-on experience.  Dean says the project’s close vicinity to the university also makes it an accessible project to her students, in contrast to excavations abroad she has preformed that are a larger financial and time commitment for students.  In addition to being a great lesson plan, the project will give back a historical site to the community.  Students will not only be prompted to master their skills, but also to consider carefully the implications of excavating a site and the importance of being delicate to local history.  (Source: Morris Sun Tribute)

Students helped plan a new hiking trail as part of a service-learning course.

In another service-learning project, students of Environmental Science at Tennessee Wesleyan College conducted research on local wildlife to help the community.  This project went beyond your typical lab assignment.  Students worked to assess a piece of property belonging to the City of Athens, Tenn. that will soon be developed into a new hiking trail.  Each group of students conducted observations of an area of the property and collected data about plants, insects, animals, soil, pollution and erosion.  They compiled the data and determined the effect of building the trail on the environment.  They delivered their recommendations to the city to help them in building the trail.  Assistant Professor Caroline Young described the objectives of the initiative: “It is my hope that by involving students in environmental projects through service-learning, they will see how the issues we discuss in the classroom directly impact our own city, and they will then understand that their efforts make an important difference in the world . . . I hope to foster a spirit of caring for the Earth in my students that will last long after my class is over.” These students engaged in the material in their classrooms and were able to help the community with their research.  As a follow up to the project, the students plan to plant trees in areas of the property where their data revealed a need for more plants.  (Source: Knox News)

These examples show different ways that service-learning helps engage students in their studies. Service-learning is becoming an increasingly popular tool in education because it encourages students to interact with their learning by applying their talents and knowledge to helping the community.  Check out local opportunities for ideas on how to incorporate service-learning in your classrooms. 

Topics: service learning, education, volunteering, experience, k12, community engagement, outreach, higher ed, community service, service learning

Students Advocate Service-Learning in North Carolina Schools

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Sat, Oct 05, 2013 @ 10:30 AM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo.

What does it take to get teenagers to come to school on a Saturday morning?  After spending approximately forty hours at school each week plus time after school doing homework, I like having Saturdays for myself, and I think most students would agree.  In the average Millennials’ world, plagued by educational inflation and constant mantras to work harder, become smarter, and test better to get into college, free time is golden.  So golden, you’d think young people would keep it all to themselves, but of course young people are also using their time to do a world of good.  Which is why on a Saturday morning students representing high schools across Guilford County woke up early and came to school to learn about service learning.  

The Guilford County Schools (GCS) Character Education Department and the GCS Service-Learning Youth Council hosted the event, held at Ragsdale High School in Jamestown, NC—just outside of Greensboro, NC—.  In Guilford County, students are strongly encouraged to engage in service learning.  If, over the course of high school, students log 100 service learning hours they receive an Exemplary Award upon graduation, and if students track 250 hours they receive a Service-Learning Diploma.  This program encourages young people to play an active role in their community.  Service-learning is not only important for these students while in high school, but also to build experience when applying to universities and living better lives after graduation

Service-Learning Ambassadors Track Service Hours with NobleHourSaturday’s Service-Learning Ambassador Training was focused on educating students on how to be Service-Learning Ambassadors.  Of the 25+ high schools in Guilford County, each school was invited to send up to five of their most dedicated students to learn about advocating for service learning among their peers. Additionally, schools could send two students who’d already been trained as Service-Learning Ambassadors to facilitate the training and workshops.  

Students learned how to engage in service learning and how meaningful volunteerism can facilitate a more well-rounded educational experience.  Students rotated in groups to attend several workshops to help them bring service learning back to their schools.  Organizations such as the Poetry Project, Habitat for Humanity, Horsepower, and many other local non-profits met with students to tell them about exciting opportunities they can get involved with.  Students also learned about the importance of youth voice in their actions and words.  Youth empowerment was an important focus of this particular workshop, demonstrating to young people the power and change they can unleash by engaging in volunteerism.  Working together, the Character-Education Department, experienced Service-Learning Ambassadors, and NobleHour’s own Keara Ziegerer trained students in the use of NobleHour’s hour-tracking software to help them track their impact in the community and progress toward their Service-Learning Diplomas. However, the goal of the program was not only to educate students about service learning, but also for them to take this knowledge back to their schools and cultivate service programs, hence the name Service-Learning Ambassadors.  As Ambassadors, students are not only working to be active in their community for their diplomas but are also active in their schools helping other students become more aware of the importance of service.

Guilford County students display their service-learning projects.

After the seven-hour program, students were tired and exhausted, but better for it.  Students ended the day reflecting on what they’d learned.  Senior Meredith Wettach commented, “I was so inspired to see all the students that are truly dedicated to giving back to our community.”  This week all these students will return to school—though probably not on Saturday for quite some time—and try to better themselves and peers.  They will become leaders.  

Last year, when I attended the training for the first time, it was in the early beginnings of my journey of committing to volunteerism.  As I reflect on the past year, I realize I have grown the most as a person in that time, and becoming a more confident leader and better individual are definitely in part the result of my service learning projects.

I’m inspired to see so many students taking initiative not only in their communities and schools but also in their own education.  Particularly, with the political unrest over budget cuts here in North Carolina, I’m glad to see that service learning has not been forgotten, and I wish more aspects of a complete, well rounded education were preserved for our generation in the face of economic hardship.  

At the end of the day, my hope is that students did not only come out of the training with a simple understanding of service learning and how hours are tracked, but with the knowledge that their time is as good as gold and that the number of hours one puts in is immeasurable compared to committing yourself to reach your own potential.   

Topics: service learning, volunteering, experience, community, civic engagement, community engagement, youth impact, millennials, volunteer management

America's Civic Health: How Volunteering and Service Shape our Nation

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Wed, Jul 03, 2013 @ 10:57 AM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo.

Service is a key factor in a person’s individual health and well-being. Service can mean fulfillment in one’s life, which contributes to a more peaceful state of mind and overall happiness.  However, service is not just about the effects it has on an individual, but more importantly how the actions of several individuals can affect the greater community and the nation.  To analyze the health and well-being of the nation,“the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) hosts the most comprehensive annual collection of information on Volunteering and Civic Life in America and partners with the National Conference on Citizenship to produce an annual report of our nation’s civic health.”  The key findings of this report show that increased volunteering and service are the result of the work of millions of volunteers dedicated to their communities. Flag of the United States of America

For the purpose of the study the CNCS collects its data from the “Current Population Survey (CPS) Volunteer and Civic Supplements conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).”  The data collected attests to the volunteer work of people aged 16 and up.  The CNCS formally identifies volunteers as “individuals who performed unpaid volunteer activities through or for an organization at any point during the 12-month period, from September 1 of the prior year through the survey week in September of the survey year.”  The report sheds positive news on the state of volunteerism, indicating that everyday people are helping overcome greater challenges by volunteering.  

In recent years, volunteers have stepped up to the challenge of meeting the needs of disadvantaged community members.  According to the report, volunteers engaged in several popular areas of service to meet their community’s needs. These include: fundraising (26.2%), feeding each other (23.6%), giving labor or transportation (20.3%), and educating students (18.2%).  All this work totals to about 7.9 billion hours of volunteerism.  The numbers are clear. Volunteerism contributes to a greater sense of community.  It creates neighborhoods and cities where people care for one another, help one another, and support one another; this shows in the 41.1% of people who trust most of the people in their neighborhood and the 15.6% who say they trust everyone in their neighborhood. When people help each other and rely on each other, the build trust between each other and feel safer in their surroundings.

A young American volunteers in construction.

The report also found an increase in volunteers in response to the devastating affects of Hurricane Sandy.  Volunteering is the greatest contribution and individual can give to a community because it asks of a person to give of themselves what they find missing in the world around them.  With two out of three people reporting they served by doing favors for neighbors, this builds a correlation between volunteerism and better communities.  In a world where technology can make it easy to isolate oneself from the outside, people have not lost what it means to be human by continuing to volunteer.  

In addition to a greater sense of community, mass volunteerism is also conducive to family life. With almost 90% of volunteers reporting they eat dinner with their family a few or more times a week, close families are fitting with a civically engaged population.  High rates of volunteering are found among parents, with parents being more likely to volunteer than non-parents in the same age group.  Parents are most often volunteering at organizations to help their children such as schools or youth services.  The top five states where parents volunteer include Utah, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and “working mothers are a key part of volunteering parents, as nearly four in 10 (38%) volunteered.”  The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” comes to mind when contemplating these stats.  Parents, in response to shortages in funding for schools and children’s programs, dedicate themselves and extending their parental commitments to the greater community.  Volunteerism is not only increasing, but it is also increasing for the betterment of children.  Additionally, parents who volunteer will likely influence their children to also volunteer as youth and later in their lives.  

A student volunteering in the community.

By presenting these statistics, CNCS encourages everyday people to take part in their communities so that the rate of volunteerism will continue to rise along with the civic health of the nation.  They encourage you to take part by following the example of the millions of parent volunteers to help youth.  This can be done by donating time, resources, and encouragement to improving the self-esteem and education of young people.  The CNCS also suggests taking part in disaster relief efforts or helping veterans and senior citizens. A list of local volunteer opportunities can be found on NobleHour.

The proof that volunteerism and civic engagement are rising is encouraging.  If volunteering rates are improving, the communities are improving, and individuals are working together toward a greater cause.  For once, one should be encouraged to “follow the crowd” and engage in civic service. By doing so, each individual can contribute to a “culture of citizenship, service, and responsibility” that successfully tackles everyday issues within a community.  Sometimes as a volunteer, it’s easy to wonder if one person can truly make an impact.  Cumulatively, the impact is clear.  People steadfastly working together is making for communities where people trust each other, depend on each other, and befriend each other.  The results are back and the nation’s civic health is doing well.  The numbers are good, and they can only get better.  Keep searching on NobleHour for ways to cultivate and raise volunteerism.  

“Imagine all the people sharing all the world . . . And the world will live as one.” –John Lennon, “Imagine”

Topics: service learning, service, volunteering, experience, community, America, civic engagement, community engagement, parents, CNCS

The Realities of Volunteering Abroad

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Thu, Jun 06, 2013 @ 10:45 AM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo.

Volunteering teaches its participants to become more aware of the impact of their actions on the community.  Often when we think of community, we refer to local communities, but volunteering can transcend borders across the global community.  During the summer, many volunteers choose to use their vacation time to help communities in the developing world.  A variety of programs exist to connect volunteers with opportunities abroad, and, though the volunteers have the best intentions, these efforts can sometimes be misguided.  To truly make an impact on a community, volunteers should pay close attention to how their actions will negatively or positively affect a community. 

Students Volunteering on the Beach

The benefits of volunteering abroad are almost self-explanatory at face value.  Volunteers gain a global perspective, visit a new part of the world, immerse themselves in a different culture and language, all the while engaging in service and helping developing areas.  It’s easy to see how volunteers would be sold on the idea of going overseas, and it is possible to make a positive impact - just not as easily as it seems.  What some don’t foresee is that one simply can’t just fly off and try to change a community.  It takes careful planning, time, and a real understanding of the current situation in a community before one can attempt to help it.  Before quickly selecting a volunteer program this summer, it’s vital to have a full understanding of how going abroad could have inadvertent negative results and how to avoid these by engaging in meaningful and impactful service projects. 

It’s important to note that many would criticize volunteering abroad because of the lack of sustainability resulting from a long-distance project.  There is a careful balance between helping a community get through the day, or empowering it so that one day it can be self-sufficient.  It’s the difference between bringing food to last a few weeks and helping a community rebuild its irrigation system so it can grow and sell its own food for generations to come.  The latter makes for a service-learning project that is sustainable because both parties are benefiting.  When looking for service opportunities abroad, volunteers should do proper research to ensure that the impact of their service will empower a community by helping lift it from poverty or hardship permanently, rather than temporarily alleviating some of the stress on the community. 

“The harsh truth is that ‘voluntourism’ is more about the self-fulfilment of westerners than the needs of developing nations.” - Ian Birrel, columnist and foreign correspondent.

Student volunteering abroad on the beach.Critics would also challenge the amount of money being put into volunteerism abroad.  With the hundreds and thousands of dollars people spend for their travel and accommodations while volunteering, many warn against “the dark side of our desire to help the developing world” as put by Ian Birrel in his article “Before you pay to volunteer abroad, think of the harm you might do”.  Birrel warns that “orphanages are a booming business trading on guilt [. . .] Those ‘orphans’ might have been bought from impoverished parents [. . . ]An official study found just a quarter of children in these so-called orphanages have actually lost both parents. And these private ventures are proliferating fast.”  The trouble with so many more tourists wanting to enrich their vacations with volunteering is that it becomes a disturbing industry where locals can profit on Westerners’ consciences.  Thousands of organizations encourage people to volunteer with their organization, but often these short excursions do more harm for local communities in the developing world. They take away jobs from skilled locals and give them to volunteers who will pay to work there.  Often the money spent by volunteers to travel abroad would be better used cultivating new industries and building infrastructure to help developing nations grow, rather than keeping them dependent on the developed world.

To avoid these misguided volunteering ventures, be sure to preform in-depth research on the program before hand.  Consider how impactful you want your volunteering to be.  Is the program allowing you to be proactive in the planning and orchestration of the project?  Will the local community truly benefit for years to come? Are you learning new skills, and are the native people learning new skills that will help them help themselves?  What does the developing community already have that can help them, and what do they need to improve their lives? These are challenging questions, and oftentimes it’s easier for one to continue helping in one's own community rather than one abroad. 

Both at home and abroad, volunteers are meant to fill in the missing pieces in a community, not supplement what it can do by itself.  The end result should be giving a foreign community the ability to help itself rather than keeping it dependent on aid from the developed world.  Volunteers should strive to bring the resources and skills that combat the issues hindering a community’s ability to prosper and live better quality lives.  Eventually volunteers have to return home, but the communities they visit and the lives they attempt to touch will remain.  Before they leave, their actions should echo in the lasting improvements helped to achieve.  This summer, continue to track your Noble Impact on NobleHour both at home and abroad. 

Topics: service learning, service, education, volunteering, experience, highered, abroad

5 Ways Student Volunteering Can Help Your Job Search

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Thu, May 23, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

It’s college graduation season, and many recent grads are contemplating what they will do next.  For some that means continuing with graduate school, but for many it means taking everything learned in the past four years and using it to pursue a career.  Regardless, this is a time full of decisions seemingly greater in importance than those made four years ago when graduating from high school.  Graduates are faced with finding jobs, managing thousands of dollars in student loans, finding a house or apartment to move out from your parent’s house, and starting a life after college.  The first step in most of this is finding a job to support yourself, but for many graduates it helps to have a resume built on a valuable, well-rounded experience in addition to a college degree. 

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Going to college should not just be listening to lectures and studying; it should be an experience where students gain the skills and experience they will need for life after graduation.  One way to gain experience is through volunteerism.  Even before college, many students begin volunteering to meet a graduation requirement, apply to an award or scholarship program, or to build their college applications.  However, volunteering does not end here, and most students who volunteer in high school continue to do so in college.  This is because volunteering is both rewarding and beneficial. 

Here are a few ways volunteering can help current students, graduates and job-seekers alike:

1. Improve as a person: Volunteering doesn’t have to be just about pursuing a career.  Volunteers also make friends, become more outgoing, and learn to appreciate the things they have and the people they care about.  Many volunteers just want to make a difference and feel good that they contributed to the community.  According to the United States Department of Labor, 42.2% of college graduates over the age of 25 volunteered, and that number is slowly rising. While many volunteers start out with a specific goal in mind, most will find volunteerism rewarding and valuable and, for this reason, continue to be engaged in their communities with it beyond graduation. 

2. Become a well-rounded individual: Volunteerism can help boost a resume for graduates seeking to build their experience in their chosen field.  For job-seeking graduates, a history of volunteerism shows employers that you are well rounded and involved in the community.  Being able to say you built houses with Habitat for Humanity or helped with disaster relief efforts says that you are concerned with something beyond yourself.  It demonstrates a sense of initiative that cannot be seen in simply listing a university name and degree. 

3. Earn experience and skills: Volunteering creates a host of experiences you can talk about in interviews.  Many graduates are just starting out and have little experience, but being able to talk about volunteer experiences can improve your chances and prove that you will make a valuable employee.  Countless applicants can talk about the courses they took and things they learned in university, but potential employers already have that knowledge and experiences.  Some important skills you’ll pick up by volunteering include teamwork, empathy, communication, commitment and leadership; all of which are qualities employers look for and experiences you can share during an interview.  Whatever your volunteer experience was, your story and background will stand out. 

4. Jumpstart your career: Sometimes it’s easier to find work experience pertaining to your career in the form of a volunteer opportunity than a part time position you can maintain while studying.  Do a little searching or contact the career center at your university to find out about volunteer or internship programs that will jumpstart you in developing your skillset for your career.  You’ll also develop contacts in your field that may be able to help you find a job later when you graduate or can serve as valuable references when you apply to other companies. 

5. Contribute to something you are passionate about: Perhaps you were strayed away from less “profitable” degrees in your college search by your parents or teachers and asked to pursue other interests and talents.  There’s still a chance to keep in touch with the things you enjoy doing.  Volunteering doesn’t have to be a chore like studying and attending class; it should be connected to a cause that interests you.  When looking for volunteer opportunities near you, find something you’ll enjoy and commit to. 

Congratulations to the class of 2013!  Make sure to become a NobleHour citizen to begin measuring the number of hours and the impact of your service work.  Use this to show employers the amount of time you are willing to dedicate to a cause that’s important to you, and then share how your story impacted the community and makes you stand out as a recent graduate. Track your Noble Impact here on NobleHour and see how it will enhance your life after graduation. 

Topics: service, education, millenials, volunteering, job search, graduates, experience, resume, highered

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