The reasons why people may choose to volunteer maybe be manifold. They often range from an altruistic desire to change the world to the chance to gain certain skills and experiences that will lead to personal growth. If you have ever volunteered, you will know that the connections you make with people and the confidence you gain from spreading your wings in an unfamiliar environment can last a lifetime.
Another fantastic reason to sign up to a volunteer program is to get college credits. Many university courses today are extremely keen for their students to get out there and gain valuable experience in their community and beyond, often offering the juicy incentive of performance-based credits for them to do so.
This may all sound like a great idea to you, by before you jump in, you should first consider some of the following things.
- Check the Requirements
The first step to finding out whether your college program accepts volunteer work in exchange for credits is to check with the study abroad office at your university. If you find that the volunteer option is available on you program, you should then make an appointment with one of your professors who is teaching a course related to the area in which you want to volunteer. They may have some useful contacts who will be able to set you up with a volunteer position that is perfect for you.
- Choose a Relevant Volunteer Program
To ensure the best chance that your volunteering proposal is approved by your university, make sure to choose a program that is relevant to what you are studying and your future career plans. If you plan to go into law, for example, a viable idea for volunteering might be spending giving some of your time to a human rights advocacy group.
- Keep a Log of Your Work
Volunteering should not be treated as a way to cheat the system. Rather, you should look upon it as a chance to learn real-world skills as you make a contribution to a worthy cause. To prove that you are not along for an easy ride, most universities with require you to keep a record of your work and achievements during your volunteering experience. As a result, it is good practice to get into the habit of keeping a daily log of what you have been doing.
- Find a Mentor
Before you commit to a volunteer position, it is important that you gain assurances that your time and effort will be rewarded with the support and guidance that you will need to thrive in the role. To do this, get in touch with the person who you will be working under to gauge their suitability as a mentor. In return for your dedicated effort, a good mentor will be able to vouch for you when it comes to proving your progress to your university tutors later.
As well as providing a brilliant opportunity for personal growth, volunteering is a great way to improve your academic prospects. Check with your college today to find out whether your program currently runs a credit-for-voluntary-work scheme.