20 Compelling Reasons to Consider Volunteering After College

Having graduated from college, you are now an adult by every meaning of the word. Forty years of work awaits you. You're hearing the siren song of the rat race. But if you haven't figured it out by now, the cookie-cutter life path of college-work-marriage-kids-death doesn't have to be the way it all goes down. Volunteering after college is an adventurous option that you can take to make the world a better place, and benefit yourself a little in the process. Here are 20 reasons why you should give it some serious thought.

  1. The job market sucks:

    Half of current college graduates are unemployed or "underemployed," working in a job beneath their skill level. Students who graduated as far back as 2010 are still looking for jobs utilizing their degrees. Know where they're always looking for people? Hint: you won't have to serve coffee to hipsters.
  2. See the world:

    Some of the poorest countries that are the most in need of help also happen to be some of the most breathtaking places in the world. The mountains of Nepal, the lush jungles of Costa Rica, the wide expanses of Kenya are just a few of the lush vistas available to you.
  3. Volunteering makes you live longer:

    Although at 21 or 22 you probably think you're invincible, trust us: it won't be long until it takes you three days to recover from a pickup basketball game and you start thinking seriously about your health. The good news is, if you start helping people for selfless reasons, you may live longer.
  4. Volunteers are needed in this economy:

    A recession hits charitable groups doubly hard, as people need more help but volunteers have less time and resources to give. Although the numbers are beginning to come back up, the recession is far from over, unemployment remains high, and the need for workers lingers.
  5. Help your resume:

    The job market being what it is, volunteer experience can make great material for improving a resume and helping yourself stand out. More employers are saying they're interested in employees with volunteer experience. And who knows? You might land a job with the nonprofit you volunteer with.
  6. Find your calling:

    College grads who aren't sure what they want to do with their lives are often advised to take an internship somewhere to get a feel for life in a certain line of work. Volunteering can serve the same purpose. You may find your passion is helping people.
  7. Build lifelong friendships:

    Serving alongside people has a way of forming special bonds that can last for years. Especially if your volunteering takes you to a third world country, the newness and uncertainty of the environment encourages you to find similarity with your fellow volunteers, which builds a basis for friendships that can last a lifetime.
  8. Gain valuable experience:

    There are so many different ways to volunteer, the skills that can be learned in the process are countless. Whether you volunteer as a firefighter or a camp counselor, you'll gain valuable knowledge about the world and about yourself that can be applied anywhere.
  9. It's a great way to make contacts:

    You never know whom you'll run into when volunteering. The connections you make with fellow volunteers could prove invaluable when you return to the search for a job. It's just one more reason it pays to be nice to everyone.
  10. Practice what you preach:

    According to the most recent figures, nearly 80% of American adults self-identify as Christians. If this percentage holds for college graduates and they all took Proverbs 19:17 to heart and volunteered, it would mean about 1.4 million volunteers, or 7,142 volunteers for every country in the world.
  11. A fraction of volunteers are bearing most of the burden:

    About 26% of Americans are credited with volunteering in 2011, but this calculation is pretty generous — it counts everyone who volunteered at least once. The vast majority of volunteer work (80%) is done by people who volunteer more than 100 hours each year. Why not pitch in and make that 26% figure a bit more legitimate by dedicating a few months to volunteering?
  12. It can change your outlook on life:

    Volunteering is probably the best way to break yourself out of your comfort zone and show you what life is like for many people. Doing so can change your views on a number of important social issues, like welfare, public health care, education, and more.
  13. Learn about your community:

    In an era of customizable and portable technology, it's easy to create a little bubble for yourself, iPod blaring in your ears while you surf Facebook on your phone. Whether you recognize it or not, you're part of a community, and volunteering requires you to unplug and connect with those around you.
  14. Have your student loan forgiven:

    For certain federal student loans, the government will agree to cancel all or a part of the loan in exchange for the student performing volunteer work. The work must be done with approved groups like AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, or Volunteers in Service to America.
  15. Learn a foreign language:

    Anyone who has tried to pick up a second language will tell you there's no quicker way to become fluent than by immersing yourself in a culture where that language, and nothing but that language, is spoken. Volunteering abroad is the perfect time to learn a foreign tongue.
  16. Get motivated:

    Maybe you just haven't felt motivated to get to work now that college is over. Since objects in motion tend to stay in motion, getting off the couch and volunteering is a good way to build some momentum that can carry you into your working career.
  17. Find inspiration:

    Say you're volunteering by digging a well in Africa and the brilliant idea for well construction hits you. There's no telling what kind of inspiration you can get while giving your time. Or maybe the inspiration you get will just be a better appreciation for wildlife, people, or America.
  18. Volunteering makes you happier:

    Happier people tend to live longer, which may explain why volunteering makes you live longer. Making other people happy is a tried and true way to achieve happiness yourself. If you want more than chasing the almighty dollar after college, you may find joy in volunteering.
  19. You have your whole life to work:

    The average ages of marriage are now at all-time highs (26 for women and 28 for men), so as a recent college graduate, odds are good you're still single. When you find a job, get married, and have kids, it becomes harder to find time to volunteer close to home, and much harder to volunteer halfway around the world. There will never be a better time than right now.
  20. It's the right thing to do:

    As an American in the 21st century, you are one of the wealthiest people to ever walk the face of the earth in the history of mankind. Since you've been given so much just by being born here, you should give back a little of your time. It's simply the right thing to do.

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