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Volunteer: Another Reason To Give Your Time

By Dan Gomez-Palacio
Director of the Grossnickle Career Services Center
Published Winter 2014-15, Affinity magazine

There are many reasons to volunteer: It makes your community a better place, and it can be a fun way to give back. Beyond these reasons, if you are looking to break into a new industry, network or develop meaningful skills in a profession, a volunteer position may be just the way to do it.

Oftentimes we talk to students and alumni who are at a loss on how to gain experience in a new field. Many jobs look for people with experience in the field — even for entry level roles. Without access to those first jobs, it can be difficult to break into an industry. One way to jump that hurdle is through volunteering. In every community, nonprofits will offer wide variety of roles where you can make an impact — all while gaining valuable experience and an ability to prove your capability in your field.

Volunteering can be valuable to those looking to join the human services, psychology, education, history, criminal justice and sociology fields. What better way to break into those fields and get a foot in the door of those organizations? But what about other fields? No worries, many organizations would love to have volunteers interested in business, technology or English — just to name a few. You could help write grants, assist elderly with their tax returns, design a website or plan an event.

These experiences look great on a resume and can showcase skills that are otherwise hard to demonstrate. To get started, check with your local United Way or city’s website — they will list out organizations in need of assistance. Either way, it can be a win-win — the organization gets a shot of energy, while you get a valuable “in” to your profession.

Dan Gomez-Palacio is the director of the Grossnickle Career Services Center. Career counseling, networking and resumé assistance are available free of charge to all students and alumni. To get started, contact Career Services at (800) 231-2391 ext. 7425 or visit