Experience through Volunteering

November 19, 2007

Did you know that most employers expect college graduates to have 1 to 2 years of experience? You are now wondering how on earth are you supposed to gain experience while in school. The most obvious answer would be either part time jobs or internships. But there are other great ways to gain relevant experience beyond the paid ones. Volunteering!

When I say volunteering I do not necessarily mean working at the homeless shelter or at a soup kitchen. While these are great endeavors they may not give you the experience you need. In order to gain relevant experience and knowledge while volunteering you need to volunteer at places that are relevant to where you want to work post graduation. There are several ways you can achieve these experiences.

First, located the organizations and businesses that are in the industry you want to later work in or have similar atmospheres. After locating these places it is up to you to approach them. This is not the time to be shy but to be bold and assertive. Approach them just like you would if you were seeking employment but let the organization know that you want to volunteer in order to gain valuable experience in the field.

Another way you can gain valuable experience through volunteering is through the Office of Service Learning (http://www.cofc.edu/~servicelearning/) in the Lightsey Center. These may not be a hundred percent relevant to your future career goals but they can provide you with transferable skills they may be needed in the future. Most of these opportunities may give you leadership and communication skills that will benefit you in the future. Plus volunteering will give you the satisfaction of helping others.

Or you can contact the Trident United Way office. They offer great opportunities to volunteer in the area. Check out their website at www.tuw.org and see what you can do to help others and boost your volunteer activity. The Career Center also has a Trident United Way directory that you as a student can pick up for FREE!  So what are you waiting for?

Can you think of other ways you can gain experience? Or another way to find volunteer opportunities?

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