How to Get 5 Years of Work Experience Before Graduating

In order to graduate high school, every student is required to complete a minimum number of volunteering hours. While many view this as a burden, an obstacle on their path to higher education and a career; I would encourage you to view this, instead, as an opportunity. Volunteering is not about completing the bare minimum, it isn’t even about the valuable experience one can gain for their resume. It is about how the experience shapes you as an individual for your future. Your time is currency going forward, and must be spent wisely.

I do want to touch on the experience volunteering can provide though, as I feel it is an often overlooked opportunity. There are two main ways that volunteering can improve your resume for either work, or for academic success. Firstly, employers and institutions of higher education alike prefer to give positions of employment or scholarly pursuit to well-balanced individuals. This means the individual has demonstrated success or ability in more areas than just the mandated minimums. Extracurricular activities are, in this way, a massive opportunity for any student to make themselves a more appealing applicant. When you have demonstrated that you can manage your time well enough to achieve both academic success as well as engage as a citizen with you community, you increase your ubiquitous appeal as an applicant.

Secondly, you will eventually look to finding a career. Regardless of how well educated you are, and how high your GPA may have been, a transition to the professional world, for the most part, requires experience. The vast majority of employers, with few exceptions, are looking to hire individuals experienced, not just in studying and achieving high grades, but in the real world. Try finding a career that does not have a minimum of required experience, and you will understand. But here is the catch-22, you need experience to gain employment and you cannot gain work experience without a job; or can you? Volunteering is an often unexploited chance to gain professional experience. Seek out opportunities to volunteer in the field you wish to one day work. If you want to work in healthcare, volunteer at a hospital or medical office; if you want to work in education, volunteer working with students; the opportunities are endless. Additionally, any post-secondary institution you may attend will have clubs, special interest groups, committees, and volunteer organizations, get involved. You can gain years of experience, which gives you a leg up on your competition, simply by volunteering your time. Simply put, volunteering is a way for you to get your foot in the door, by gaining irreplaceable workplace experience. 

Volunteering can also allow you to experience if your desired career path is right for you, or find a passion you did not know existed. In this sense, volunteering is a chance to expose yourself to new options for your future, and analyze existing options. If you want to work in healthcare, or education, or business you will never know the experience will be like, or if it is the right path for you. If you have no clue where your passions are, go out and volunteer your time to finding out.

It may seem trivial to some, but volunteering also opens social doors as well. You will likely need personal references if you hope to apply to graduate or professional schools. When you volunteer in an organization, you will grow your social circle, you can meet like-minded individuals, professionals already working in a field which interests you. Any of these people can be references, or simply, a new friend.

Whether volunteering provides career experience; beefs up your resume; gives valuable insight into what you want to do, who you are, reveals hidden passions; grows your social circle; or simply rewards you with the knowledge you are a citizen within a community, and you are a better person for having given back to that community; volunteering is never time wasted.

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Article created by Gregor Daly, Biology Educator at Luke's Tailored Tutoring