August 10, 2021 | By Diana Mendez and Haley Garafalo
TAGS: best practices, network, leadership, personal development, career development, students, member voices
Both as career development professionals and in our personal lives, service learning and volunteering has served an important role. In our work at the Wasserman Center for Career Development of New York University (NYU), we strive to create a culture of civic engagement through promoting the importance of voting; highlighting employers that do important social justice work; and speaking to students about the skills that can be gained through volunteer work. Additionally, we have both served as staff advisors for “alternative” spring break trips focused on social justice issues all over the world and partnered with NYU’s service office to share individual volunteer opportunities and “days of service” with fellow staff and students.
Based on the many ways we have witnessed service work impact and enhance our careers and our students’ journeys, we would like to highlight a few key takeaways around the benefits of service and volunteering (based on the NACE Career Readiness Competencies). We encourage you to share these with your students to make volunteer work and service learning a focal component of their career exploration and skill development.
In conclusion, service learning and volunteer work allow students to develop meaningful and tangible work-related skills and explore a variety of work environments. As career practitioners, we should encourage all students (not only those interested in helping/social services professions) to add volunteer experiences on their resumes, and to discuss the skills they are learning from these activities in interviews and networking events. In recent years, authenticity has become more important in workplace situations. Helping students feel comfortable discussing activities that they naturally gravitate towards and are excited about, will allow those students to come off as more authentic to employers, and could ultimately refine their ability to tell their own stories. Most importantly, we should also strive to help students become the best version of themselves and to contribute to society through their chosen careers. Highlighting volunteer experiences is a way to do this.
Haley Garofalo is assistant director, Employer Engagement & Communications at New York University Wasserman Center for Career Development.
Diana Mendez, Senior Assistant Director at New York University Wasserman Center for Career Development.
Percent of institutions conducting First-Destination Surveys
Median number of professional staff
Percent of career centers with employer partnership programs
Percent of staff time spent student-facing
2021-22 Career Services Benchmarks Survey