Volunteering with passion is key.
From personal experience, I have found that those who volunteer with passion and find purpose in their work also gain a strong personal statement that writes itself when one is next required of them. Many pre-med students who volunteer are not always doing the majority of their volunteering in the medical sector but are doing things they love. There are as many reasons for volunteering as there are people, whether it’s to give back to the community, to make a difference in the world, to gain experience, or even to change a person’s life.
During your four years in college, it is incredibly important to volunteer for any or all of the above reasons, but also to add to your insight about where you really want to go and what you want to do. Academics tell you some of the stories, but you may find by actually doing something — related to your major or not — that your preferences become more clear or even redirected. And depending on what major you are and if your plans include grad school, this same volunteering could increase your chances of getting into the program you’re seeking. Like your undergrad application to UF, when you start applying to graduate schools, you want to stand out.
Another aspect for students to consider, especially those who are specifically medical, engineering, or agriculture majors, is that they may find volunteering opportunities through research — and vice versa. This is a great option to explore because research and volunteering are often two significant portions of any application that a student can then dovetail and make doubly impactful. Click here to search for research opportunities.
So now you’re asking, “How do I find these experiences?” UF has incredible resources to help find volunteer opportunities. For example, you can volunteer at the Arboretum, Field and Fork Pantry, or use UF’s program called Gators Volunteer which connects you to area organizations in need. On their website, there is an upcoming events page that shares both the things going on in the community as well as a list of participating organizations.
Some students choose to participate in UF’s Alternative Break program, which can be either an international or stateside experience. These trips provide a great opportunity to give back to communities in need while mixing in some fun and travel. Alternative Break trips are available in the Fall, over Thanksgiving, during Winter break, MLK holiday weekend and Spring Break. Check it out here.
I haven’t personally found many finance students doing volunteering. Instead, I see more attempts to find paid intern positions. As most of us are college students on budgets, this is pretty understandable. There is, however, a value in both interning and/or volunteering without pay. Objectively, it can be a signal to future employers that this student is invested in their field of study without the incentive of money. Subjectively, it can be a barometer for how much you really like doing something just for the sake of doing it…or should you be trying something different? Having a strong personal statement is key to moving forward in both the academic and job worlds, and using volunteering as a means to enhance your resume and reinforce your chosen pursuit is worth all the time and effort.
Here are some suggestions that will help you find one of these enriching experiences:
The Alachua County Public Schools need mentors and classroom volunteers. With a few hours a week, your impact on children now could help better shape their future. To learn more about the different ways you can get involved in the schools, call the School Volunteers Office at 352-955-7250 X252.
Here are more community organizations that are happy to use your volunteering spirit:
Many finance majors will discover that they need to have an internship, but HaveUHeard that volunteering can also provide opportunities to find a job? Possible volunteer opportunities could include the Income Tax Assistant Programs. You might also seek volunteer roles with college clubs, or try assisting students with financial decisions (FAFSA and/or tax forms), or even help local non-profits by supporting the financial side of their endeavors.
Volunteering in this area seems to be more goal-oriented because there are so many aspects to agriculture (GMO research, sustainable agriculture, animal or crop farming, soil research, water management, etc.). My personal advice would be to get hands-on experience at a local college or join a club on campus that then provides avenues to the specific people in your area of interest.
There are opportunities to work abroad and here in the United States. One organization is the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), which provides a connection between organic farms that need volunteers and those who want to contribute to the functioning of an organic farm.
Again, many business majors tend to look for required internships, but if volunteering is what you want to do, you can become a charity board member, lend your skills pro-bono, or bring your specialized business know-how to a small business as a volunteer.
Stella Fedele, Intern for HaveUHeard
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