Volunteering as a Resume Builder

To get into the University of California, an applicant must have “experiences that demonstrate unusual promise for leadership, such as significant community service.”

Clearly, In this day and age, volunteering is a requirement. Volunteering used to be for the select few who actually wanted to help their community. Now, the common consensus is that if someone doesn’t volunteer, they won’t get into college or get a job.  Even some high schools now require volunteer hours to earn a more prestigious diploma. People don’t just volunteer anymore to help others. They are forced to, in order to get ahead of other applicants.

Colleges especially love to see volunteering on a resume, and since colleges have been getting more exclusive, every applicant is trying to get a leg up. More volunteering has become the norm on resumes.

Not everyone volunteers strictly for college, of course. There are still saints among us. Many people volunteer just to help people, simply because they believe it’s the right thing to do. Others try to volunteer in an area related to the field they want to work in, as it can provide extremely valuable work experience.

Sophomores Kirsten Baska, Carolyn Weiler and Ethan Kallenberger, who volunteer at church, Family Promise and Lawrence Memorial Hospital (LMH), respectively, have different reasons for volunteering.

“I just realized the importance of it, and that a lot of people need [help],” Baska said.

Weiler agreed that putting volunteering on her resume was more of a bonus than an incentive.

Weiler said she likes having the volunteer hours, but it’s not the main reason she started volunteering, and she agrees with Baska that it just feels nice to help.

Kallenberger chose to volunteer at LMH because he wanted experience in the medical field.

“I figured a good way to find out if I liked it would be to work around it,” Kallenberger said.

Kallenberger isn’t trying to just rack up ours for his resume either, especially because LMH limits him to one shift a week.

With the emphasis colleges and workplaces put on volunteer hours, volunteering will probably always be a requirement. Forcing applicants to volunteer blurs the line of volunteering to help others and volunteering to help oneself.

Along with the influx of volunteers comes the question of whether or not their motivation matters. If more people than ever are volunteering, and the volunteers are getting the work done, does their motivation matter? Does it matter if they’re only doing it to get into college?

“I think if someone is willing to go out and do it [to build a resume], that’s something, but if you’re doing it for non-personal reasons [to be helpful], that’s a better thing,” Kallenberger said.

Kallenberger said that as long as the work gets done, it doesn’t matter, although it’s unfortunate that people aren’t recognized for helping their community. But a good indication of someone has the correct motivation is if the volunteers don’t want recognition in the first place.

In the end, it’s up to the colleges and places of work to decide how to respond to the unmotivated volunteering situation. As long as colleges and workplaces value volunteering hours and don’t care about a volunteer’s motivation, people will continue helping the community just to build their resumes. This is bittersweet in a way. Volunteer work gets done, but the volunteers aren’t honored for their contribution because many, regardless of character, volunteer. The true saints are drowned out by hundreds of self-absorbed college applicants.