Engaging in your community through volunteering, service, advocacy, and civic engagement activities is more than just a resume booster. Community engagement is an opportunity to explore future careers, build networks outside the university, develop new skills and apply what you’re learning in the classroom to the world around you. Every profession has a public dimension and a way to connect through community engagement. Whether you volunteer at your local food pantry, tutor at a school, participate in voter registration and education efforts or support an advocacy organization with their marketing and outreach, there are countless opportunities to further your career through community engagement while making a difference. For example, if you’re interested in healthcare, you can volunteer at a hospital or a nursing home to gain real-world, hands-on experience that will help you explore a potential field of interest while developing important career-specific skills. Your volunteer work might also expose you to professional organizations, internships, jobs, or networks that could benefit your career.
Hands-on community engagement is known to enhance learning and prepare you for the world of work and life beyond college. It allows you to strengthen your skills that are applicable across every field and that many employers are looking for such as communication, teamwork, leadership, working across differences, and problem-solving. Employers consider internships and community-based projects and experiences to be the best way for students to demonstrate their skills and knowledge. Further, working with community-based or public good organizations can provide you with hands-on experience and insights on how organizations run, what makes an effective leader, how tasks are delegated, and the variety of work that happens to meet the community’s and organization’s goals. You can also learn how different professions put their skills to work for the common good.
As a college student, community engagement presents an opportunity for you to use the knowledge you’re gaining in your academic studies to make a difference in your community. It can make classroom topics more real and relevant while providing you with career guidance and tangible experiences. It creates opportunities to apply and build your skills in a way that has a real impact outside of the classroom. Further, taking the time to learn about the historical contexts of the community and understand what a community is actually asking for is not only essential to engaging in ethical service, but it can help you have a positive impact while furthering your own learning and growth. Uncovering the root causes of social issues and actively working to address them is a powerful way to move from theory to practice and transform society.
There are countless ways to engage in your community while at BU. One of those ways is to get involved in the Community Service Center. Programs range from ongoing opportunities such as the Student Food Rescue and Siblings programs to one-time service opportunities like the Alternative Service Breaks and days of service. Another great opportunity is the Yawkey Nonprofit Internship Program, which is designed to enable students to gain valuable experience in the nonprofit field while also providing them with the critical financial support that these organizations are often unable to provide due to limited budgets. Finally, the BU Cross-College Challenge (XCC), the Hub’s signature interdisciplinary project-based elective course, engages students in team projects that address a real-world problem or an enduring human question. Past projects have ranged from creating a civic engagement guide for high school students to a zero waste initiative to reduce our environmental impact.
No matter how you choose to engage, active civic and community involvement is important and applicable to any field, and it helps to make the world a better place along the way.