As a college student, you’re probably pretty overwhelmed. You have a lot of things to stay on top of: your studies, your social life, your relationships, your future, your job. All of these are important areas of your life, but it’s often hard to give them all 100%.
One area that requires a lot of focus is planning for your future. Your studies are a key part to that, but you also have to think about your résumé. Your résumé should include not only facets of your education, but also work experience, relevant skills, and volunteer experience. As a student, you may be hung up on the education and work experience, but it’s important that you don’t forget the volunteer experience. The importance of volunteer experience and generosity reaches further than your résumé. Volunteering, giving back to the community, charitable giving—all these things help you develop as an adult in a myriad of ways while expanding your empathetic abilities. If you want to give yourself the best chance in your career but also as a genuine person, take a look at these different ways to give back as a college student, from volunteering at a retirement home to planning monthly clothing drives. The skills you’ll learn from these activities will benefit you in all areas of life.
Set Up Clothing Donation Drives
In general, clothing donations are wonderful ways to give back to the community and help people in need. The best part of this, especially for college students, is that it doesn’t cost you anything. All you need to do is some cleaning! Figure out what items you don’t wear or don’t need, ask your roommates to do the same, and drop off the items at a clothing donation drop-off or schedule a pickup. Better yet, set up a clothing donation drive with your college. You can ask the clubs you’re in to include this in the semester volunteer hours or see if the dorms will participate. If you can do this somewhat regularly, all the better.
Regularly Visit a Nursing Home
Visiting nursing homes is a wonderful way to give back to the community. All you need to do is reach out to a nursing home and see if they allow visitors. If they do, go alone or, better yet, bring some friends with you. The power of conversation and connection with the elderly is amazing for their mental health, but it’s good for you as well. You’ll learn some wonderful stories and build great relationships.
Donating blood regularly is a lifesaving measure that takes minutes to do. Honestly, what’s a better way to give back than to save somebody’s life? In a previous post, we talk about what exactly the American Red Cross does, and blood collection is a major part of that. If you only have time to give back in a few small ways, then simply giving blood is a great route. However, you can take it further and set up blood collection drives on campus.
Volunteer at Local Shelters
Volunteering with a shelter is another lovely way to give back to the community as a college student. There are tons of different shelter volunteering opportunities, and your college probably has a list of these local volunteer opportunities. Here are some great volunteer options:
- At a local animal shelter
- At a local homeless shelter
- At a soup kitchen
- At a women’s shelter
Set Up or Join a Mentorship Program
This is a way to give back that also looks tremendous on a résumé. Taking the initiative to set up a mentorship program at your school, at your job, or at a club shows companies you’re willing to take charge in order to help others. In general, all the tips listed here ask you to think outside yourself and your needs, and that’s truly what a mentorship program encapsulates.
If your school already has a mentorship program, then join it! This will not only help the people you mentor, but also teach you important lessons. Keeping a record of the people you help, how you helped, and what you learned from the experience will allow you to share some of these success stories in future interviews. However, remember that this mentorship program isn’t just about how to make yourself look better. At the center of it all is helping people who need it—put all your effort into giving these people the best experience and education you can provide them.
Write Handwritten Thank-You Cards
This isn’t something you can mention on your résumé, but it provides excellent emotional maturity and afterthought, both of which are important for adulthood. Many people respect and admire handwritten thank-you notes, which show a different level of care and empathy than a quick thank-you text or e-mail. Send out handwritten cards to professors, interviewers, and anybody else who’s made an impact on you. It may not seem like you’re giving back to the community, but you’re still giving back to individuals within the community and raising their spirits.
Try Out an Alternative Spring Break
More and more college students and professors are taking advantage of spring break to do something helpful. When you take an alternative spring break, you and other students spend the break working on a service project. Many colleges have programs that allow you to travel to different cities, states, or even countries to help people in need. If your college doesn’t have its own program, there are many others out there in which you can participate. Don’t wait until senior year to do it, either; once you take one, you won’t want to stop!
Finding time to volunteer as a college student can be challenging, but the rewards are well worth it. Try to incorporate some of these wonderful ways to give back into your spring semester plans. For your clothing drives, turn to GreenDrop. We accept clothing donations in College Park, MD, and many other locations. Put your best foot forward, and start giving back now!