How to Find Volunteer Opportunities in College

Adebola Aderibigbe / Stillman College »

As an international freshman, finding opportunities can be quite tough. Volunteer opportunities? Not as tough as you think, unless you make things hard for you. Everyone, once in their lifetime, should volunteer. As a student, it is highly recommended you volunteer often. Yes, it will look good in your portfolio, but understanding what it means to serve will matter more than just building a great profile. How, then, do you go about fishing out these opportunities?

Ask Around

College is a universe on its own, and to get what you want, you must know how to ask questions. Start by meeting up with your departmental heads (the ones with whom you’re most comfortable), and ask them questions about volunteering opportunities for students in your departments or majors. You will most likely not get a negative answer.

In your search for volunteer opportunities, narrow your search to your areas of interest. You do not want to aimlessly apply for opportunities only to find out that you had completely no interest in them. It will be worthless when you don’t give your all to community service or a cause you care genuinely about. Ensure that your interest is non-academic, as the effort to serve without course credit will let you understand the true value of your work, not just how it benefits you.

Serve in a Club

Make use of the clubs and organizations available on campus. I advise you to join at least one club/organization present on campus. It is the easiest way to involve yourself in volunteer activities on and off campus. As a member of a club/organization, you will be exposed to so many different fields that will give you the much-needed experience as a student. 

I have only been on campus for a few months, but these have been the most eventful few months I’ve had in a while. If you’re worrying about getting swarmed with so many activities, don’t fret. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while you sign up for volunteer opportunities:

  1. Education First!

Find a schedule that works for you. There will always be other opportunities, so don’t worry about missing any if you need to pause and focus on coursework. You’re in school to study. Every other thing is secondary.

  1. Manage Your Time

School will definitely teach you how to juggle multiple things at a time. Try out new ways of managing your time and see what can help you maintain a healthy balance between school, service, socializing, work, etc.

  1. Keep Your Professors Close

If community service will take you out of class for a session or two, ensure that your professors are fully aware. It’s much better to give a reason than to not show up without explanation.

With these few tips, you’ll do just fine! I’ve been coping all right (far too “all right”) and school is going well. Don’t think too hard about juggling school and volunteering; your recruiters know you’re a student so they’ll make every effort to work with your schedule. 

Remember, ask questions! You never know until you ask. Create bonds with your professors, as you get the most information out of them in an informal setting. They can help you find opportunities to volunteer, and they can give you a little bit of leniency if you have to miss class. Join a club/organization and, importantly, don’t sweat it! You’ll do great! 

These are my go-to points on finding volunteering opportunities. I’ve been able to find a balance between school and extracurricular activities, so it’s not as tough as you think. Give it a try, will you?