You think you’re ready to start searching for careers. You’ve earned a degree, or you’re working towards one. You have experience, recommendations and extracurriculars at school. However, there may be one thing you lack: volunteering.
Amanda Felten, associate director of Campus Life, believes volunteering has many benefits for a college student, including providing them with the opportunity to become an active member of their community.
“Volunteerism has a lasting, positive impact on society at large and enables students to acquire life skills and knowledge,” Felton said. “In addition to offering students psychological, social, and cognitive benefits, volunteering helps students build their resumes, build good references, and build networks with future potential employers.”
One student at IU Southeast is particularly invested in community service. Danielle Everage was able to get involved in volunteering through her sorority, Sigma Kappa.
“Service is one of our main values,” Everage said. “Giving back to the community and helping others [has become] a big part of my life.”
Everage is also the volunteer liaison at IU Southeast in the office of Campus Life. One of her job requirements is running the IU Southeast Volunteering page on Facebook. She said her job also includes administering a survey at orientation and at the volunteer fair on campus each year. With this survey, she will then add people to the Facebook group who express interest in volunteering as well as people involved in organizations on campus. She said, in regards to the Facebook page, her goal is to post at least one event per month, as well as posting whenever organizations reach out to her.
When the volunteer liaison position opened up, Everage said she knew the job had to be hers.
“I knew I had to have the job to continue helping others give back to the community and IU Southeast,” she said.
Everage thinks it’s important for students to volunteer because it requires them to look at the world in a different perspective.
“Volunteering teaches people to take a step back and look at other people’s needs and how they can help make a difference in someone’s life,” Everage said.
Everage said her sorority attends charity events including dance marathons, Martin Luther King Jr. Service Day and walks for organizations such as Our Place Drug and Alcohol Services, Choices for Women, Autumn Woods, Riley Children’s Foundation, St. Jude and American Red Cross.
Our Place Drug and Alcohol Education Services
Karen Keeler, the administrative manager at Our Place said she works with volunteers from IU Southeast quite frequently, and greatly appreciates them.
“They come and help with projects that we couldn’t accomplish without 20 students helping out and are able to get it done in one day, which is very beneficial,” Keeler said.
Keeler said volunteering makes someone altruistic, and improves a person’s self-worth by allowing them to give their time and talents to other people. She said she also believes it can be very beneficial to a student’s future.
“Nine times out of ten people will volunteer if they’re interested in a particular career,” Keeler said.
She said if a person is interested in a certain path, there’s no better way to initially get involved in it than by volunteering.
She said when a person begins volunteering somewhere, he or she gets to know the people who work there. She said people who start as volunteers can go on to fill positions later on, because of the connections he or she has already made there.
However, volunteers aren’t the only ones who are benefiting from working with Our Place.
Keller said she welcomes IU Southeast students onto the board at Our Place because the students bring young experience, energy and personality. She said they also happen to be savvy with social media, which recently has become very useful for organizations and businesses.
“Having that knowledge is a tremendous asset,” Keeler said.
Baptist Health Floyd
Kayla Williams, who is the Nursing/Allied Health Recruiter at the hospital said volunteering can be an asset, and sometimes a necessity, for nursing students.
Williams said experience in a hospital prior to getting your degree is something an employer definitely considers, especially if you’re working in healthcare.
The hospital she works at offers various volunteering opportunities, including student nurse shadowing.
Shadowing is a volunteer activity where nursing students in their last year are able to come in and learn more about different departments at the hospital by following a nurse around. Williams said this can be useful because it isn’t typical hours or working in an office, but it has a class component.
Williams said things such as helping out at the Red Cross, going out into the community and doing blood pressure screenings for free and providing education on smoking effects on the body are some things she did while in school.
Williams said the volunteer work shows that students who volunteered know what to expect in the work force.
“They know a little bit more about our culture and organization,” Williams said
Kentuckiana Works is a Workforce Development Board for the greater Louisville area. Their goal is to provide job seekers with the education and training opportunities they need, as well as helping employers find suitable employees.
Michael Gritton, executive director at Kentuckiana Works, said he is skeptical of the significance of volunteer work. When asked whether he thinks volunteering is something that is heavily looked for while picking out candidates for a job, he said he doesn’t believe it is something at the forefront of employers’ minds.
“I don’t think its something that is a deal breaker,” Gritton said.
Alpha Phi is a sorority on campus that also works hard to give back to its community, making volunteering one of its values.
Hayley Love is a member of the sorority and is frequently involved in the sorority’s volunteering.
“I believe that serving volunteer hours empowers our members to be more humble individuals,” Love said. “Volunteering is an amazing, motivating tool for college students.”
Love said each year members within the sorority are required to complete 20 hours of community service. Members of Alpha Phi work with organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House and St. Mark’s soup kitchen. They also participate in walks for charities such as Susan G. Comen, Lupus Louisville and St. Jude.
Love said these group events are beneficial to the members of her sorority.
“We are constantly making new connections,” she said. “Each sister brings her own unique ability to our sisterhood.”
Tau Kappa Epsilon
Daniel Smith is a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity on campus. Smith says the fraternity strives to make a difference in the community. Each year they participate in different volunteering activities around the area.
This year, they held a Zombie Walk on campus, as well as participating in an annual walk benefiting St. Jude’s in Louisville.
The fraternity singled out St. Jude’s as a charity they are very proud to support.
“I think volunteering always looks good on a resume, but it’s also good for networking,” Smith said. “It can help a person grow personally and spiritually.”
While volunteering isn’t something required on a resume, employers like Williams say it can certainly give an applicant a leg up.
“If I had two resumes that had the same qualifications, but one person had volunteering experience in healthcare, I would chose the resume with volunteer experience,” Williams said.
For many, however, the benefits of volunteering go far beyond an advantage in future job interviews.
Everage said her passion for volunteering doesn’t come from a professional standpoint. She said she enjoys it because she believes it can improve someone personally.
However, Everage does acknowledge the powerful boost volunteer experience can give a person’s future employment prospects.
Everage said volunteering is a great way to network. It allows someone to make new connections, or start as an unpaid worker somewhere and work his or her way up the ladder.
“People can gain life long skills and network with others while volunteering, which can help in their future endeavors,” Everage said.