By Katie Tucker
For Sophomore Morgan Simmons volunteering started off as finding something to fill her free time, but now has meaning much deeper than occupying her time. Volunteering at a local hospital helped her gain experience for her resume. It seems Simmons is not alone, as statistics show volunteering may be the key to a landing a career.
According to a report published in January by The Bureau of Labor Statistics more people volunteered in 2009 than in the past five previous years. The study stated that 63.4 million people, or 26.8 percent of the U.S. population volunteered at least once between September 2008 and September 2009, a 0.2 percent increase from the year before. Additionally, those who volunteer were twice as likely to fill a position over those who didn’t.
Though volunteers have different reasons for giving their time, campus Career Services suggests that volunteering may be the key to a career post graduation.
Volunteering offers networking opportunities because job seekers work side-by-side with people currently employed in the field. Volunteers can also ask supervisors for reference when they’re applying for a job.
Specifically for college students, depending on what the volunteers are studying, the volunteer work can actually be beneficial to them in the academic and professional aspects.
Simmons said she has experienced this phenomenon – getting the experience she needs as a result of giving to others.
“I want to live a life full of generosity” she said. “That’s actually why I chose what I’m going into for a career – I want to be a doctor. Helping people on a regular basis teaches you to put others first.”
College students are encouraged to pursue internships to gain experience and broaden their resume, but it is easy to forget volunteering at an organization can be just as effective at building relationships and finding a job Simmons suggested.
La Crosse offers a variety of organization to volunteer with from the Salvation Army, United Way, and Big Brother, Big Sisters among others.
Each semester an Involvement Fest is held in Vahala to allow students to browse current volunteer opportunities within the community.
For more information on how to get involved on campus , the Involvement Center link at the UW-L homepage offers a running list of current volunteer activities both on campus and in the community.