The ‘So what?’ on community service

Our whole lives, we’ve been told, “community service is important so you can get into a good college,” or “you need to volunteer so you look more appealing to a college recruiter.”

We spend lots of time in high school volunteering with the end game of getting accepted at a good school. However, what happens when we get there? Why don’t we volunteer more in college?

If you’ve had experiences similar to mine, most honor societies or leadership societies that want you to join their organization advertise themselves as being great resume builders. Teachers ask me every semester what I am doing to build my resume. Other teachers emphasize the importance of honing communication so that you look more appealing to companies looking to hire you. With all this talk about hire ability, why don’t we ever hear anything about community service as a resume builder while in college? When you’re in college, no one says, “Community service is important so you can get a well-paying job after college.” Unless you are a part of Greek life, it’s likely your list of volunteer activities while in college is slim to none.

It’s not like companies don’t care about community service though. According to a Deloitte survey, 82% of hiring managers prefer applicants with community service and 92% say that volunteer service builds leadership skills. However, only about one in three applicants list community service on their resume.

So, the question arises: why don’t we hear about service opportunities in college? Besides not having our parents constantly pushing us to volunteer, college students are getting their first taste of freedom and of the real world. To put it bluntly, they don’t want to volunteer. With all the new responsibilities of college, community service gets put on the back burner.

However, that doesn’t mean it should. With the increasingly competitive job market, anything you can do that puts you ahead of another applicant gives you a better likelihood of being hired. With all the talk in college about building your resume and getting hired, community service should be one of the things at the top of the list.

College students, if you want to get hired, start volunteering!

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  1. Great thoughts Daniel. I completely agree with your point that volunteering and service are important during the interview process. It is one of the few “safe” ways employers have to understand anything more about an interviewee than superficial job qualifications. A heart for helping others and a rich passion for enriching pursuits outside of work speak volumes about an applicant’s true character. Over the years, I’ve witnessed the unique ability for these employees to resist burnout and maintain a positive attitude despite challenges.

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