Doing Well by Doing Good

Posted by Grace

After reading Kaz's post on Circle K last month, I thought I would follow up by talking more about the benefits of volunteering and community service during your time as a college student.  I'm a pretty decent spokesperson for this as I enjoy having a full docket of things to devote myself to. I always have an ongoing service project to work on or planning for. I helped out making bowls for a fundraiser for the Soup Kitchen yesterday, and plan to devote a couple of evenings this coming week to volunteering with the Honors Program to raise awareness and funds for the hungry or homeless of Fairbanks.

Community service is a great way to give back to Fairbanks local community.  It is a great way to connect with community residents and make new friends outside UAF.  I've gotten jobs through connections I gained from volunteering.  Helping out raises your profile on campus, and not just introduces you, but makes you memorable to your peers.  You might interact with a more diverse group than you would in classes and find new interests, as a result.
It's also a great experience and very rewarding on many levels.  I can't tell you how much I've learned outside of the classroom on a volunteer project I was later able to apply to a job or a class.  I've learned software programs I wouldn't normally be exposed to - like Microsoft Publisher and Photoshop - and it makes you a more confident speaker as well.  There is more of an incentive to do well on a volunteer project versus classroom assignments because I push myself to further my creative abilities. Helping others drives me to excel to the best of my ability, not just to meet someone else's standards. Plus, volunteering on services projects yields greater satisfaction than getting an A on an exam.
There are also more direct rewards possible when volunteering for community service. One day you'll be helping walk dogs at a local animal shelter and the next, you'll have something showy to put on your resume- or maybe find a furry new friend.  Being an officer in a club or getting a service award looks really good on a resume.  There are sometimes prizes associated with volunteering and while they're generally not worth as much as devoting your time, they do make a nice perk.  The bowl making thing yesterday won me a Kindle Fire HD!
If you're new on campus and are looking for volunteer opportunities, there's no shortage of options.  The Honors Program and Circle K are some of the best but certainly not the only choices.  Short on time? You can always sign up for smaller community service event that isn’t too time consuming or commit to something larger like Big Brothers Big Sisters.  Keep an eye on bulletin boards in the Wood Center and campus wide for ideas and projects.  Don't be afraid to freelance, either.  See a need and try to do what you can to fill it.  Good luck!

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