By Holly Tate, Job and Internship Developer, and Colleen Lewis, Events Coordinator

Summer is just around the corner! Looks a little different than you were imagining, huh? Whether you are back in your hometown or living the quarantine life here in Eugene, this summer is still FILLED with potential and opportunities for you to build up the skills and experiences needed to help you land future internships and jobs. It’s time to get creative, think outside the box, and put your skills to good use wherever you are this summer through volunteerism! 

Volunteering is a great opportunity to explore your talents and passions while helping others.

The more you can connect your passions to your volunteer experiences, the more meaningful and motivated you will feel. You do not need to be an expert to volunteer, it can be a great way to build your portfolio of skills and experiences. Think about things you are good at, or things you want to get better at, and actively seek out groups looking for those skill sets. They will probably even train you along the way. The sky is the limit on the types of skills you can volunteer your time and energy towards, even in the digital world:

Got another non-profit or social cause you’re passionate about? Reach out to them, tell them your skills and passions, and ask if there are ways you can volunteer and learn from them this summer. It never hurts to ask! 

Volunteering expands your network.

Since we know networking is a key component to any job search, use volunteering as a strategic way to expand your network. Volunteering for an organization that matches your career interest can connect you to new people (aka future colleagues or bosses!) and can lead to paid opportunities down the line. For example, if you’re an environmentalist, are interested in women in politics, or interested in health care, there are organizations looking for help which are full of industry experts with which you can connect. This might also be a great opportunity to reach out to Duck alumni who work in your field of interest and ask them for advice about how you can use and grow your skills now, and if they have any opportunities they can connect you with. #duckshireducks

Have you ever thought about joining a professional organization? Groups like Business Professionals of America, Net Impact, Public Relations Society of America, or the Association of College Unions International and so many others attract active professionals who work to support the health of their industry. Volunteering and being active in the online community with these organizations gives you an insider view to the priorities of your future employers, and the connections you make could move your career forward for years to come.

Volunteering enhances your resume and portfolio.

Just like how a part-time job, internship, or campus organization involvement can look good on your resume, listing your volunteer projects on your resume can go a long way in demonstrating your transferable skills and passions to potential employers. Learn some new marketable job skills like graphic design, project management, research, business consulting, copyediting, or any number of skills through volunteering? Write about those projects and the impact your contributions had on the non-profit on your resume. Were you able to help a group increase a process efficiency? Grow their donor base? Create five new resources for their website? These should all go on your resume!

Volunteering impresses future employers.

More than 80 percent of hiring professionals, according to a poll by FAST Company, are interested in hiring candidates with volunteer experience and think volunteering is a strong way to gain leadership and other professional skills. Employers get excited about candidates who demonstrate a proactive effort to be involved even in adverse times. Volunteering can fill in the work history gaps between school and an internship or a job, as well as provide a great way to demonstrate your desire to learn new skills and take initiative. 

Many top companies today consider volunteerism to be an integral part of their culture. Seeing it on your resume is a signal that you might be a good cultural fit for their team! Salesforce, 3M, Patagonia, and Wayfair (among others) regularly provide staff with paid time outside of the office for community service activities. Volunteering now may just be the beginning of your long history of community and professional engagement as a leader in your field. 

Ready to explore but don’t know where to start? 

  • Handshake: Filter for volunteer positions and find all kinds of remote, volunteer positions, especially with Eugene non-profits.
  • Points of Light: More creative ideas of how to share your time and talents to help others around the world from home. 
  • Volunteer Match: Find organizations here in Eugene, in your hometown, or even virtual opportunities. 
  • Hands on Portland: Hanging out in PDX this summer? Here are some Portland-based projects. 
  • UO Holden Center for Leadership and Community Engagement: Talk about connections! The staff at the Holden Center can help get you connected to some great local projects and brainstorm ideas about how you can integrate service into your schedule during the school year, too.