Five Questions Students Should Ask About a Summer Volunteer Opportunity

Got a teen with time on their hands this summer? Why not use volunteering as a way to engage them in something productive and constructive and extremely meaningful. Many students take advantage of the summertime to fulfill community service hours, build their college resumes, or learn more about certain professions.
And while it’s important to teach teens to give, there is no reason they shouldn’t “get” as well. In fact, volunteer work can help your teen’s resume shine. A 2013 study from national consulting firm Deloitte reveals that volunteering doesn’t just allow you to help others – it can help you land a job.

As part of its annual IMPACT survey, Deloitte polled more than 200 human resources executives and asked them how volunteer work impacts their view of college graduates about to enter the job force. Eighty-one percent of hiring managers reported that skilled volunteer work experience makes a college graduate more desirable. So why not start now?

Choosing a volunteer opportunity strategically can help teens build skills and enhance their resume. Here are some questions they should ask when deciding where and how to volunteer:

1.Is it a cause they believe in? Your teen will enjoy the time spent volunteering much more if they feel a personal connection to the group. So whether it’s working at an animal shelter, creating donor campaign materials for a cancer group or mentoring young kids at a Scout camp, having a passion for the cause will make the work more appealing.

2.Do they prefer behind-the-scenes work or would they rather work with people? There are usually a wide variety of volunteer opportunities at many non-profits. Say your teen wants to work at the local public library. There are a number of options that would fit different personalities and skill sets: they could help by sorting and shelving books; finding materials for patrons; or assist with the children’s summer reading program. The possibilities at most venues are varied, and your teen should speak up about what they’d most like to do.

3.Does it align with their talents and goals? Volunteering isn’t all low-level tasks. If your teen is an aspiring computer programmer, accountant, graphic artist or writer, have them seek out opportunities where they can put their skills to use and build portfolio pieces and recommendations. The feedback they will get from real-world professionals can be invaluable to their growth.

4.Is there an opportunity to get an inside look at how the organization works from a business perspective? Sure, the food bank needs to have its shelves stocked. But perhaps your teen is curious how the food is secured from corporate donors, how the supply chain works, what the economics are of a donor offering two cans of soup vs. $5. If your teen is interested in business, a volunteer stint can give a fascinating glimpse into how they work.

5.Will they have access to those who can help them build their resume? As your teen is volunteering, he should make every effort to talk to a wide variety of employees in different departments to find out what they do. Never overlook the opportunity to meet professionals who might serve as future mentors or provide recommendations!

The benefits of volunteering are similar to those of having a summer job– and in some cases can even be greater. A teen who shows initiative, drive and responsibility in their volunteer position can often be trusted with duties far beyond those they might find at an entry-level position. Benefitting from doing well? Now that’s a summer well spent!



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