Making the decision to volunteer or to not

Jessica Hodge

Choosing to volunteer can be a tricky decision for college students. There are so many great opportunities out there, but you don’t get paid any money for the work and hours you put in. And as a college kid, everyone needs all the money they can get. So should you volunteer, or skip the non-paid position and find a job that actually pays?

Everyone may have different opinions, but I encourage everyone to volunteer if they can. Even if you only have an hour or two every night, find a place that needs your help. Yes, it may sound stupid because you don’t get paid and you could be watching Netflix or hanging out with friends at the mall, but it is actually a great idea for a two big reasons.

One great reason to volunteer is so you can amp up your resume. Employers love to see that you volunteer your time and care about other things beside money. Especially if you have never had a job before, getting a volunteer position will add something to your resume. It also gives you someone to put on your reference list.

The longer you are in that volunteer position, the more the program director will get to know you and your work habits. This is the second year that I am volunteering my Tuesday nights to tutor kids who don’t have the resources they need. I have gotten to know the program director so well that she even helped me get my current job (one that pays money). They will be able to vouch for you and put a lot of great words in for you and your work ethic. The directors can also give you words of advice before your interview.

The second reason that volunteering is worth your time is the reward of feeling like you did something good. You may feel like passing out soup to the homeless on a Saturday morning isn’t a big deal, but the people you pass soup out to will be so grateful to you. The people that you volunteer for do not take your help and work for granted, and they can never thank you enough for the things you do for them. A soup kitchen, a humane society, schools, clinics or really any place would be grateful to have you even for one day of the week.

You may not get money from a volunteering position, but you get a lot more than that. You get a good reference and a great starting point for work. But most importantly, you get the feeling of doing something great, and that feeling is worth much more than any amount of money.

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