Benefits of Volunteering for Students
It’s no secret that helping others and contributing to one’s community through positive, impactful action makes people feel good. For students, spending some time volunteering can be especially beneficial in various ways.
Serving others reaps many benefits spanning a student's health, community and even career prospects. As they make new connections and learn skills to advance their career, student volunteers feel happier and healthier. They strengthen ties to the community and broaden their support network.
Read on as we explore some of the innumerable advantages of volunteering for students!
Improve Mental Health & Well-Being
The life of most students can be super busy, if not downright chaotic. Assignments, exams, late-night study sessions, social and work expectations can sometimes become overwhelming and even stressful. As students learn to manage their schedules and become more independent, experiences like volunteering can help improve time management skills and emotional well-being outside of the classroom.
Volunteering has been shown to help reduce and counteract the adverse effects of stress, anger, and anxiety, leading to depression or substance abuse troubles. Some key mood-boosting opportunities inherent to community service include engaging in social interactions, helping and uplifting others, making a positive impact, and becoming a part of something bigger than yourself.
Practice Social Good
One of the most significant benefits of community service is simply the rewarding and personally enriching act of helping others. Consequently, one of the main reasons students may be drawn to social work is to help people and communities in need through worthwhile causes. Volunteering allows students to give their time and talents to support a cause that’s important to them.
Giving back also helps students to pause and reflect on their impact. In a climate often encouraging a constant flow of material, media, and tech consumption, their contributions through volunteer work positively reinforce an essential key to success: even the most minor tasks make a big difference to people's lives and organisations in need. They are not just living in it; they are making the world a better place!
Build Community & Expand Network
Networking is an essential part of building students’ careers. By volunteering in a group, students can meet and work with people who share common interests, expanding their overall network of diverse mentors and peers.
Their new connections — other change-makers, volunteers, employees, board members — can motivate and inspire them and even open up some professional doors for them in the future! After graduation and well into one’s career, they will be able to call on their professional network for career advice and critical introductions in their field.
They’re not only doing good for the community but also their future career prospects!
Gain Real-World Career Prep & Experience
Even when students have top grades and test scores, employers may want to see relevant work experience on a resume. The good news is that it doesn’t matter if it comes from paid or unpaid work! Service-learning offers skills-building opportunities while improving the lives of others. The hands-on learning inherent to volunteer work gives students the competitive edge needed to enter the job market.
Through community service, students can apply their in-classroom education to real-world scenarios with real implications in an industry of interest to them. They will develop essential career functions in leadership, time management and problem-solving, leading to greater confidence during job search and interviews.
Determine Career Goals
Volunteering is a fantastic and efficient way to explore diverse career paths and opportunities! When choosing a field, volunteer work can help students discover first-hand if a career choice is a good fit. Despite what you think you know or want until you dip your toes in, it’s hard to be sure a particular career is something you will enjoy.
A pre-law student, for example, may benefit significantly from volunteering with a law firm, legal non-profit, government or political organisation. They will be able to broaden their knowledge, build transferable skills and demonstrate a committed interest in a legal pathway -- a great asset to a law school application! They get to try it out first before pursuing the commitment to several years of graduate-level education and the accompanying tuition bill. This empowers students with confidence in knowing they have chosen the right path for themselves.
Bolster Resume & Improve Job Prospects
Make your resume stand out among other candidates! Volunteer work can help find that first entry-level job easier for students and recent grads. Hiring managers want relevant work experience, and many new grads may not have developed these professional skills yet.
Students are doing volunteer work to set themselves apart in a stack of applicants. They should be encouraged to communicate strategically about the skills they have developed during their service work. Let recruiters and hiring managers know about the administrative and collaborative experience they have gained while working on volunteering projects! This helps demonstrate their career preparedness and complements an individual’s academic and co-curricular transcripts.
Refine Valuable Soft Skills
Volunteering allows students to practice and develop an array of social relationships and other soft skills beneficial to career ambitions.
Some examples include:
- Resourcefulness: Volunteering allows students to learn more about solving real-world problems creatively while managing time and scarce resources effectively.
- Collaboration: When a student has volunteer experience on their resume, this demonstrates commitment, empathy and a deeper understanding of interpersonal interactions and teamwork, as well as highly sought-after skills in communication, leadership and customer service.
- Initiative: Volunteering by its nature is voluntary, which means recruiters can easily see that a student is motivated and takes the initiative, even without the compensation of wages or personal gain. This reflects an entrepreneurial spirit and proactive approach to their work.
Do you ever feel stuck in an echo chamber of voices and lenses that look and sound like your own? It can be easy to fall into social circles of people who share your personal and even political perspectives. Volunteering, however, can be a great way to mix things up.
When a student volunteers in a service-based organisation, whether abroad or locally, they will get to work with many different people, groups, ethnicities, ages and socio-economic backgrounds, all of whom are invested in the same goal or cause that ties them together. Learning to work with and tailor communication with different people and populations has a highly positive impact on a student’s future professional life. They become more empathetic and mindful of perspectives that differ from their foundation.
College is all about cultural awakening and broad sharing of big ideas; working in a volunteering role is an excellent opportunity to practice open-mindedness outside of the classroom!
Getting involved with community service helps inspire and empower students to impact their world and springboard their careers. Their new skills, enthusiasm and flexible schedules make them ideal volunteers!
As you can see, there are many reasons for students to sign up for a cause, campaign or volunteer organisation that is important to them. Even with a packed schedule, volunteering just a few hours a week on weekends or summer break will enrich their experience in a big way.
We’ll wrap up with a few tips on how campuses can help support and encourage students who would like to help others.
- ntegrate service-learning opportunities in schools programming, both in and outside of the classroom
- Reward volunteerism by recognising the most active students through incentives, giveaways, badges and academic credit
- Establish a campus-wide community service award for students who contribute substantial time and effort to a cause
- Encourage students to track their service hours and reflect on their impact for a more meaningful component of their learning experience
- Offer scholarships to civically engaged students
- Reduce financial barriers for working students
- Centralise volunteer opportunities into one webpage or job board for students to easily browse and apply to positions that match their career interests and goals