How to Balance Volunteering and Full-time Studies
Volunteering is one of the most humanitarian pursuits there is; it allows you to give back to your community, explore unique local opportunities and meet an exciting array of people. But most of all, it helps you develop a clearer understanding of the world around you and the people in it, inviting you to broaden your perspective. So how can you incorporate volunteering into your life when you’re busy with full-time studies? It’s easier than you may think.
The Benefits of Volunteering
Volunteering while you’re still at college or university not only allows you to be part of something purposeful, but it also helps set you up for a future career. Some of the benefits of volunteering while studying include:
- Work Experience – you’ll gain valuable real-world skills that employers look for (but have a hard time finding) in new applicants.
- Employability – if you can manage to hold down a volunteer position and perform well even when no one is paying you, it speaks volumes to potential employers about your commitment to doing quality work.
- Operational Knowledge – since non-profits are becoming more common (and more visible in their communities), having a working knowledge of them as an industry can uniquely qualify you for jobs in various humanitarian niches.
Balancing Work and Academic Life
Although some volunteer opportunities are more flexible and informal, the majority function like paid positions. That means that you’re likely to find yourself managing it like a job – keeping a schedule, answering to a department head, paying attention to specific details and more. Couple that with the responsibility of maintaining good grades, and things can get a little challenging.
To keep everything in focus (and meet all your responsibilities), try implementing some or all of the following ideas:
Plan out your semester in advance
Go through all your syllabi and figure out what you need to accomplish when. If you are volunteering locally, this probably involves making sure class time is scheduled around work and budgeting enough time for study, volunteering and personal activities. Never neglect that last bit – it’s significant for maintaining a positive perspective on all areas of life.
Schedule online classes around travel
If your volunteering pursuits take you out of town or overseas, online courses can help you stay on the path to graduate on time. Determine which courses can be taken online and stack those classes when you have to be away.
Make use of online resources
There are plenty of online support systems you can access to get the help you need when things start to feel a bit overwhelming, whether that’s academic support or personal support. Your academic adviser should be able to show you how to network with professors and join online study groups so you can work remotely when your volunteer efforts take you away from your regular study space.
Some of these services are offered directly through your college or university, but others require to you to do a bit of outside research in your own time.
Here’s are a few online resources available to you:
- Online study groups
- Help with papers and essays
- Full-credit online courses for more extended absences or overseas volunteer work
Working as a volunteer brings with it numerous personal and professional benefits. If you have the opportunity, you should dive in with both feet. With the support systems in place to help ensure your success, balancing volunteer time with study time is not only workable, but it is also highly advisable.
Also, remember that potential employers like working with people who use their time wisely and in pursuit of causes that positively impact the community. Being a dedicated volunteer who also manages to prioritise academic success shows your ability to thrive even with multiple commitments to maintain.
Feeling inspired? Take a look at all of the amazing volunteering opportunities on CharityJob right now.
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