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.
Exploring Your Interests
If you are currently exploring potential careers, consider engaging in service opportunities that will allow you to gain hands-on experience in the areas you are curious about. Are you considering a career in medicine or health care? Consider volunteering at your local hospital (e.g. Lawrence Memorial Hospital
). Are you interested in gaining experience working with young people? 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. The Staff Picks to the right are great places to start looking!
Developing Your Skills & Gaining Experience
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. Wanting to sharpen your salesmenship 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 what you are looking for. Not finding opportunities that fit the skills and experiences you want to develop? Consider speaking with the volunteer coordinators of programs you are interested in; they may be willing to allow you to take on different responsibilities.
Expanding Your Network
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 you work with; 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.
Getting Started Locally
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 Service Learning
to 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.
The KU Volunteer Fair is held annually in early September. A list of organizations
who attended the September 5, 2012 fair is available and includes contact information.