Most college students think that there are only two options after graduation – find a job or enter graduate school. An opportunity that is often overlooked is volunteering with an organized volunteer program. The Office of Social Justice provides information and resources on how to apply for entry into one of these volunteer programs. Many thanks to Elizabeth Jackson, the Coordinator for the Office of Social Justice, who provided valuable information and insight about volunteer programs.

Where do Mount graduates volunteer?
 
Mount graduates volunteer with a host of volunteer programs. Elizabeth says:
 
Mount graduates volunteer with a variety of organizations in various locations. Specifically, graduates from the Office of Social Justice have volunteered with the AmeriCorps, Habitat for Humanity, City Year, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest, L’Arche USA, Catholic Charities, and the Augustinian Volunteers. In my experience, the most popular volunteer programs for Mount graduates are the Jesuit Volunteer Network and the AmeriCorps.
 
Let us take a closer look at the two most popular volunteer programs for Mount graduates. Jesuit Volunteers work with people in marginalized areas and perform many ministries, including teaching, mentoring, nursing, hospice care, legal aid, refugee resettlement, elderly outreach, and more. JVCs can volunteer both in the U.S. and internationally. The AmeriCorps members help families find affordable housing, mentor students to stay in school, and clean up after natural disasters. They volunteer with non-profits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith based organizations for a period of 3-12 months.
 
What is the value and importance of volunteering after graduation?
 
Volunteering is very valuable for recent college graduates. Elizabeth says: “Post-graduate volunteering provides a year of intention in a community where recent graduates can learn about the world they are entering, about themselves as individuals, and about their role in this world. It provides intentional time to discern the purpose that drives one as an individual in life.” Taking a year off after graduation to volunteer allows students to slow down, take a breath, and really discern where they want their future to lie. Not only this, but students will also be helping others, gaining work experience, living in a community, and giving back to society.
 
Does volunteering often lead to a job opportunity?
 
Volunteering often does lead to a job opportunity. Elizabeth says: “A volunteer might stay and work with the organization, shifting from a volunteer position to a paid position. For example, an individual doing volunteer teaching with an organization might be offered a permanent teaching position at their assigned school.” Even if the volunteer position does not lead to a paid position, the volunteer should keep in touch with their organization. One reason is because the organization can write letters of recommendation for the volunteer’s job applications. Furthermore, Elizabeth says: “Volunteer experience on a resume could catch the attention of alumni from the organization or program who work at a prospective place of employment.” A shared volunteer experience with the hiring manager might help one find a job!
 
Why volunteer if you are not paid?
 
Elizabeth listed 10 reasons why one should volunteer even if there is no pay involved:
  1. FUN!
  2. Passion
  3. Shared mission and vision
  4. Personal and professional development
  5. New perspective
  6. Get to know the community
  7. Help others
  8. Faith and/or civic duty
  9. Skill building
  10. Networking
Volunteers have fun together and are passionate about helping others. They share a common mission and vision, undergo personal and professional development, and gain a new perspective about the world around them. They get to know the community, practice their religious or civic duties, build their skill set, and network with others. Even if volunteers are not paid, they gain these and many other benefits through their service.
  
What does a typical stipend look like?
 
Elizabeth says, “Stipends typically cover food, transportation, and a little bit of fun money.” Organizations usually provide housing but, if they do not, the stipend will also cover housing. Stipends differ based on the specific volunteer program and location. Keep in mind that the livable wage varies across the world.
 
What are some helpful written and online resources?
 
Elizabeth recommends the Catholic Volunteer Network website, their Response booklets, and VolunteerMatch.com. She says, “The Office of Social Justice and the Career Center have physical copies of the Response 2018 booklet, which provides information about a variety of service opportunities around the world. Students can also order their own copies through the Catholic Volunteer Network website.” The Response 2018 booklet contains a detailed description of full-time, faith-based volunteer opportunities. Stop by the Career Center or the Office of Social Justice to pick up a free copy today. Also, contact the Office of Social Justice or the Career Center if you have any questions about volunteer programs after graduation.