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College students should not overlook the value of volunteering


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Time is a precious resource for college students. Between studying, working a part-time job and having a social life, it can be challenging for students to find any time that isn't already spoken for. As such, the notion of volunteering may be at-odds with many students' priorities. However, according to a recent report, volunteering can be of substantial benefit to young people's careers.

Missed opportunities
According to a survey of human resources (HR) personnel conducted by professional services firm Deloitte, skills-based volunteering can significantly enhance a college student's chances of securing a job upon graduation. Unfortunately, few college students see the value in volunteering at a nonprofit organization as a means of bolstering their skills set, with less than half of students polled saying they considered volunteering as a valuable use of their time.

"It is clear that the skills and experience gained through volunteering offer a competitive edge," said Evan Hochberg, national director of Community Engagement for Deloitte Services LP. "However, when more than half of college grads and returning veterans don't consider volunteering to improve their employability, there is work to be done to help them see the upside of volunteer bridging as a viable job search option."

Making connections
In a crowded job market, college graduates must do everything they can to set themselves apart from other job seekers. Today, many hiring managers see skills-based volunteering as a way for students to demonstrate their commitment to professional development as they earn their college degree.

Approximately 81 percent of HR executives surveyed said that experience gained through skills-based volunteering would be taken into account when evaluating potential applicants for an open position. An additional 76 percent said that skills-based volunteering made candidates more attractive, and 81 percent said that such experiences would strengthen a recent graduate's application.

Although it can be challenging to find the time to engage in skills-based volunteering while in college, it is clear that doing so can be a valuable asset in the job search process. To land the best jobs after graduation, it may be worth exploring these opportunities. Your college's career services office may be able to point you in the right direction if you wish to seek out skills-based volunteering options in your desired field.

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