How Volunteering Can Help You and Your Resume

DO_Emmanuel College 2009

You hear it often, think about it maybe once or twice. Volunteering. Maybe your high school had a required number of hours for graduation, or maybe it was just highly encouraged. Everyone knows that it’s a great way to help out the community, and feel good about yourself, but have you ever thought how it will look to future employers, internship advisers, or on scholarship or college applications?

While it’s true that, when it comes to college and scholarship applications, things like GPA and scholarly achievement are important, but they aren’t everything. Volunteering is like going above and beyond, and it can set you apart from other applicants. If it comes down to two students who are alike in nearly every way on paper, the admissions officers are going to choose the one who has more volunteering hours under their belt (most likely).

And after college, when you’re applying to “real” jobs, do you think they’re going to care so much that you got good grades or had a respectable GPA? Surprisingly, no. One thing that is much different in college is that GPA starts to matter quite a bit less in the “real world”. Obviously, it still helps for some things, but employers are going to realize that if you’re standing before them with a college degree in hand that you were able to perform the tasks necessary for the profession.

When you get to this point in your adult life, people (employers) are going to be a lot more interested in hiring someone with a good personality, whose values and ethics fit those of the company, and above all, will make their enterprise look good. Volunteering your time with cause, or multiple causes, that are important to you can be a great way to show your personality and what you stand for. Plus, if you volunteer with an organization in your niche or profession (at a hospital for a pre-med student, for instance) it will give you some sort of experience in your field.

Some other ways volunteering can benefit you:

  • When applying for jobs (even part time ones) it can give you something to talk about on applications and in interviews. Plus, it helps if you haven’t had any other formal work experience in the past.
  • If you are uncertain about a certain profession that you think you may want to go into, it’s a great way to test drive it and see, by volunteering somewhere associated with the field you wish to explore.
  • It can be fulfilling for you as a person, and allow you to connect with and help others that truly need your help. Plus, you never know what kinds of people you’re going to meet when volunteering somewhere.
  • It gives more dimension to your character, which becomes especially helpful when in the application process, as most potential employers/admissions officers don’t linger too long on individual applications.
  • Supervisors of places where you’ve volunteered can also make wonderful character references when it comes to scholarship, job, or college applications.