Been There, Done That: Former Volunteers Give Advice to Undergraduates

Been There, Done That: Former Volunteers Give Advice to Undergraduates
by Paula Gonzalez, former Graduate Assistant, Boston College Career Center

Have you ever considered volunteering fulltime after graduation, but did not know where to start? Boston College graduate students and employees shared their advice and personal experiences from post-graduate volunteer programs. Here is what they had to say:

If it feels right, do it! That was the number one piece of advice given by former volunteers. But, don’t forget that each volunteer program is different and you have to do your research to find the right fit for you. Think about what you want from a program. Work experience, spiritual growth, international experience?

“The rewards are incredible- meeting new people, building a skill set, becoming more marketable for whatever career path, growing personally. I have so much more life experience to build off of and it was a benefit for me to have a totally new experience after graduation.” – Rosto de Cristo volunteer

What are they doing now? Although most participants surveyed are Boston College graduate students, they are studying a variety of different subjects across the university including law, pastoral ministry, higher education, social work, and theological studies. Others work in the volunteer and service learning center and the alumni association.

All volunteers said that their volunteer experience has greatly impacted their everyday lives. The impact was often characterized as an experience of personal growth, broadened perspective, and a deeper understanding of social justice.

“My post undergraduate volunteer experiences influence me every single day- my ability to deal with difficult situations, ability to be more self-reliant, self-confident, do more with less, complain less about things that don’t really matter, a better perspective on life and a much stronger, more real Christian faith.” – JCV Nicaragua volunteer

Seven Strategies for Success:

  1. Do your research ahead of time (about yourself and the programs)
  2. Don’t expect everything to be easy or perfect
  3. Keep an open mind
  4. Be aware of the challenges of community and simple living
  5. Try not to have too many expectations
  6. Immerse yourself in the culture
  7. If an opportunity comes your way, take advantage

If you’re interested in volunteering, be sure to check out our website for more information on Post-Grad Volunteering, the Volunteer Opportunities Listings page, as well as the Boston College Post-Graduate Volunteer Job Fair, taking place on Tuesday, October 27th from 4-7pm in the Heights Room.

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