As busy college students, it’s often hard for us to find time to sleep, let alone give back to our communities. Yet volunteering is something that all of us should make time for. You get to make a difference in a community that needs your help, and the warm fuzzies you get aren’t bad either. Yet making time and finding a volunteer opportunity can be a challenge. With these tips, you’ll be volunteering in no time.
1. Don’t think of it as a resume booster
Sometimes people see volunteer only work as a way to add extra oomph to their resumes, but that shouldn’t be the case. It’s okay if that’s part of your drive to volunteer, but if resume boosting is your only reason for volunteering, you won’t want to stick to it for long. Why spend time volunteering in a way you don’t enjoy when you can be doing something that you love? Luckily, there’s a way to combine both. Just. . .
2. Get creative
Working in a soup kitchen is a classic way to give back, but there are other options out there. You can tutor elementary school students, teach a community class in your area of expertise, campaign for cause you believe in, sort medicine, or countless other things. Volunteering doesn’t have to be physical either. You could virtually mentor high school students or design flyers for a local nonprofit. Find something that you love to do and that will exploit your current skill set or help you develop another. The possibilities are endless. Volunteering doesn’t have to be drudge work or unfun; it can also be a personal learning experience.
3. Every little bit you give counts
Even if you can only volunteer for thirty minutes a week, every contribution helps. Actually, even if you can only volunteer one weekend for the entire school year, you’ve helped. It’s better to consistently volunteer for a half hour every week than to volunteer for two hours one day, however. Continuity is how you build relationships and, depending on how you choose to volunteer, finally see the good you’re doing for the community. If it comes to a choice of giving time or money, give your time. It’s a more precious gift since it can’t be earned back. Volunteers are always in high demand. That being said, make sure that you don’t spread yourself too thin when you sign up. Plan for enough time to get there and back before any important events, like class.
4. Make it social
Why don’t you grab a group of friends and volunteer together? You’ll compound the good you do while bonding with your peers. If you can’t bring your friends with you, don’t despair. Through volunteering, you’ll meet amazing people from all walks of life. These people will humble you in more ways than you think. All you have to do is be open to what they have to tell you.
If you’re so busy that you don’t have any free time, then a) I cry for you and b) consider replacing one of your current activities. I’m a firm believer that if you really want to do something, you’ll make time to do it. Try dropping one of your less important commitments and volunteer instead. If you choose the right activity, you might end up having more fun volunteering than with the activity you dropped.
Volunteering isn’t always easy. Sometimes it involves sacrifice. After all, what’s more important in the longer run: one more Netflix episode/hour of sleep/hour of social media, or being a positive force in the world? No matter how you choose to volunteer, realize that it’s a personal investment as well as one in the community. Through it all, you’re also becoming a more empathetic person. You don’t have to put in much effort, but the benefits are innumerable. So what are you waiting for? It only takes a moment to start making a difference.