Engaging in service opportunities locally, nationally, or internationally can help you explore your career interests, develop employable skill sets, gain hands-on experience, and expand your professional network. Service opportunities, whether local or international, unpaid or paid, are excellent options for any student looking to gain valuable experience while serving a greater cause.
If you are currently exploring potential careers, consider engaging in service opportunities that will allow you to gain hands-on experience. If you are considering a career in medicine or health care think about volunteering at your local hospital (e.g. Lawrence Memorial Hospital). Are you interested in gaining experience working with young people? If so you might consider volunteering for a local youth program (e.g. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Douglas County). Do some searching; there are likely service opportunities that will allow you to explore your career interests.
Employers are looking to hire KU students and alums with employable skills and hands-on experience; service programs can help you develop these skills and gain valuable experience. As you search for service opportunities that interest you, think about what you would like to gain from your service. Would you like to gain experience building websites? Look for organizations requesting website assistance. Are you wanting to sharpen your sales skills? Find positions that give you fundraising responsibilities. Be strategic when choosing service programs to engage in; know what you want and find opportunities that will help you get there. Not finding opportunities that fit the skills and experiences you want to develop? Consider speaking with the volunteer coordinators of programs in which you are interested; they may be willing to allow you to take on different responsibilities.
Who you know (and who knows you) will play a key role in your career success. Building a diverse network of peers and established professionals that can serve as allies in your career development is essential; you should begin building this network today. When engaging in service opportunities, take the time to develop meaningful relationships with others; you never know who might give you a lead to your dream internship or job in the future. Share your career interests with program administrators, supervisors, fellow volunteers, and others with whom you work; let them know what you are looking for and ask for advice and referrals that may help you. If your service opportunity ends, remember to keep in touch; individuals will be far more likely to help you if you remain in contact with them.
The best place on campus to learn about local service opportunities is the Center for Community Outreach. They can help you find local service opportunities that fit your interests. Roger Hill Volunteer Center is also a great place to find service opportunities in the Lawrence area. If you would like to receive academic credit for your service hours, contact the Center for Civic and Social Responsibility learn about the Service Learning Certification program they offer. Students living in the Kansas City metro area can use Non-Profit Connect's VolunteerLink site to locate service opportunities in their area.
A Volunteer Fair is also held annually on campus each fall. View the 2016 Volunteer Fair attending organizations.
- Idealist - searchable database of volunteer opportunities in the US and abroad.
- International Volunteer Programs Association - professional association with searchable database of reputable international volunteer programs.
- United We Serve - comprehensive federal site with searchable database of volunteer opportunities.
- AmeriCorps - federally funded service program that supports US communities through education, public health, environmental, and anti-poverty initiatives
- Cross Cultural Solutions - international volunteer and intern programs focusing on teaching, health care, community development, and much more
- Peace Corps - federally-funded service program that sends participants to serve abroad in a variety of capacities. Contact your KU Peace Corps representative at 785-864-3624 (located in the UCC office)
- Student Conservation Association - national conservation organization with volunteer and internship opportunities that benefit national parks, marine sanctuaries, cultural landmarks, and other green spaces
- Teach for America - national teaching program that helps participants gain in-state teaching credentials while teaching in impoverished or otherwise underserved school districts
- Volunteering Solutions - volunteer and internship opportunities abroad organized by location and type of program
- Volunteers for Peace - international non-profit that coordinates over 3,000 volunteer projects in 100 countries each year. Also offers volunteer opportunities in the United States
- Volunteer World - listing of volunteer opportunities by country and category