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Why should my student volunteer while at CSUSB?

The Office of Community Engagement actively encourages students to volunteer at the university level.  We partner with nonprofit agencies and schools throughout San Bernardino and Riverside Counties and promote both individual and group service opportunities, short- and long-term time commitments, and even fun trips over Spring Break that include service activities!  Even during this time at home due to COVID-19, we have virtual opportunities to serve at both local and national agencies.  Whatever your student’s interest, unique talents, or commitments, there is a way for them to contribute!

While there is an obvious benefit to the community when students serve, there are also many benefits for the students themselves, including:

  1. Feeling at home and making connections: Students at CSUSB come from many communities, both local and international, where they knew lots of folks.  Volunteering locally will help your student get to know local community leaders and build networks for future opportunities.  Students I’ve talked with have said they feel more “at home” when they volunteer their time and effort with the local community.
  1. Gaining experience in a field of academic study: Let’s face it, there is nothing like volunteering with a large after-school program to help your student decide if education is their major!  Students can gain valuable experience early in their academic career through volunteer service, and the experience may help them to decide on a major (or decide against one!)
  1. Cultivating fresh, local reference letters:  When I left for college, I didn’t take my high school letter jacket with me.  In the same way, letters of reference from high school teachers and high school work supervisors have less impact than what the student is doing in college.  Besides, it is much easier to call a local community agency staff member and ask for a reference letter than to try and catch a busy high school teacher on the phone that the student last saw two years ago.  Community agency staff are accustomed to writing letters of reference for volunteers, and they are more than willing to help students who have volunteered at their agency!
  1. Developing new skills:  Volunteering gives students an opportunity to learn new skills, both through opportunities to try new things and through the training that most agencies provide.  Students can develop or enhance their public speaking skills, problem solving abilities, interpersonal skills, and academic skills like reading, writing and calculation.
  1. Preparing for an internship or full-time work:  A volunteer service position can be very valuable experience for your student’s career development.  Volunteering with an agency or school will expose your student to the range of jobs available in their field of interest and what level of education is necessary for different positions.  Your student can also gain job-related skills and experience for their resume, which can be difficult for student o gain during their college years.  Corporate volunteerism is also popular, and an interviewer may ask your student to talk about volunteer experience in an interview.
  1. Developing quality friendships: Volunteering is a great way for your student to get to know other students and community members through positive activities.  I’ve met some really caring, decent and just plain incredible people through my volunteer service experiences, and service is a positive way to hang out as a group and make new friends.
  1. Preparing for graduate school/professional programs: There are some graduate schools and professional programs that will ask your student about volunteer service on their program applications.  This is especially true in education, law, medicine, and other helping professions.  Your student’s involvement in volunteer service will demonstrate a willingness to be an active participant in addressing community needs and a positive, contributing member of the profession.
  1. Applying for scholarships: There are an increasing number of scholarships that look at a student’s grades, activities, and service participation.  It can only help to have volunteer service activities to list on any application for scholarships and awards.
  1. Being a responsible leader: Volunteer service is a great way to learn more about community needs, leadership opportunities and the importance of voting.  University students who volunteer are more likely to continue to serve after completing a degree, adding to the pool of community members for school board positions, church leadership and other volunteer posts.  Volunteering can expand your student’s horizons and become a rewarding lifelong commitment!
  1. Making an impact:  Opportunities for students to engage in tremendously challenging, important and rewarding volunteer service are available at CSUSB!  Volunteer work brings real change, change students can be a part of, change students can see with their own eyes.  Students see it and feel it for themselves, and they know that they have made a positive impact in their community.

OCE offers a variety of volunteer service programs.  Please encourage your student to check out the Community Engagement Website to discover opportunities to serve!