“Something in her manner… made my heart melt as I saw the joy and happiness expressed in her eyes from my simple visit. From that time on, I knew I wanted to help those at the end of life. I did not understand then the benefits that would come to me from this activity.”
- Justin Lo, who volunteered at hospices from the age of seven, describing his first encounter with a hospice patient.
As we know, self-assessment and exploring careers are two foundational steps of career development. It is an ideal way for young people to gain career insights while also learning about themselves. However, while giving back to the community is certainly a great reason to volunteer, students also benefit themselves tremendously from serving others. Starting as early as middle school, volunteering can help provide concrete information that will assist students in making informed career decisions.
Volunteering is giving time to serve others, for free. For students, it can be as simple as helping clean kennels at the local animal shelter, or playing cards with the elderly at a long-term care facility. For those that like the outdoors, it might be clean-up on Earth Day or helping pass out water for a charity 5K run. A variety of activities are available to help young people serve, while learning about themselves.
Top 10 Reasons Volunteering Helps Students Become Career Ready
- Provides “real world” experience in a field of interest
- Opportunity to discover hidden talents or interests
- Builds a valuable network of people that can lead to future jobs, recommendations, or other helpful connections
- Promotes personal growth and self-esteem
- Gets your foot in the door for paid employment
- Perform better in school
- Develop skills necessary for the job market, such as leadership, communication skills, dependability, time management, and decision making
- Helps build a stronger resume for college and scholarship applications
- Provides a leg-up in the hiring process
- AND it is a good thing for our community!
Volunteer Opportunities for Teens
Identifying a volunteer opportunity doesn’t have to be difficult. All it takes is a phone call, quick internet search or networking through social media. But to make things super easy, we have curated a short list of websites that will help students identify a role that will be of interest.
To get started, we recommend students consider their interests and strengths. This quick Play To Your Strengths resource will guide students through a list of potential ways they can contribute through volunteering.
With busy academic and extracurricular schedules, it may seem unrealistic to add volunteering into the week. Consider serving just 2 hours a week, or every other week. A short, consistent commitment to an organization will reap the same benefits as 10 hours a week. Be thoughtful.
Valuable experience, along with making new friends, learning about yourself and serving others, is right around the corner. Make the inquiry today!
Not sure where to start? We’ve curated some awesome websites that have volunteer opportunities just for teens. They include applications and the “next steps” needed to connect to the service opportunities.
- 8 Volunteer Opportunities for Teens in 2020
- DoSomething.org - Youth-Led Movement for Good
- United Way Volunteer Center - large searchable database
- List of Volunteer Opportunities for Kids,Tweens and Teens in Grand Rapids
- ServeGR - meaningful volunteer opportunities organized by strength, passion and schedule
- Hello West Michigan Community Service Opportunities - surrounding areas
- VolunteerMatch - searchable by location