Are you a senior wondering what to do next year? An exciting array of post-graduate volunteer programs lay before you...everything from a few months to a couple of years, in settings close to home or on the other side of the globe.
Many of these programs offer placements that will stretch participant knowledge, skills and awareness, better preparing them for graduate school and career. Volunteers will have the opportunity to work in a professional environment, learning firsthand about community issues and processes for addressing them, while applying their skills in responsible and challenging capacities. Participants also will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in service, community, simple living, social justice and faith and spirituality.
For further resources, please consult:
Below are some helpful questions and things to consider:
Post-Graduate Volunteer Fair
Every Fall DePaul hosts a Post Graduate Volunteer Fair. The fair offers graduating seniors a great opportunity to meet with over 30 volunteer organizations with a wide variety of opportunities in the US and abroad. For more information, contact Emily LaHood-Olsen.
Note: Most postgraduate service programs offer room, board, monthly stipend and health insurance, and the participants live in community.
Benefits of Post-Graduate Service Programs
- Student loan deferment: Students can do post-college service even if they have student loans to pay back. Be sure to ask programs about deferment possibilities.
- AmeriCorps Education Award: Students may apply for the AmeriCorps education award through many programs. This $5,500 grant can be applied to past school loans or future education. Ask each program for specifics.
- Health insurance: Most programs provide some form of health insurance.
- Financial accommodations: Many programs may also provide transportation (to and from, and while there, etc.), living expenses, stipends, retreats and travel opportunities.
- Professional development: You can do almost any kind of work you choose. You can gain work experience for your future desired career or you can try out a new area with no prior experience necessary. Either way, you will be adding to your resume and building the foundation for your future work.
- Personal development: This service experience, which may include community living, faith practices and advocacy work, offers participants the opportunity to further explore their goals, identity and life direction.
- Exploring the United States: With volunteer programs in all 50 states, students have the chance to explore a new place right here at home. Participants who choose to stay in that area after their service commitment will have already established a community of support and friends.
- Living abroad: With programs in over 100 countries, students may choose to live abroad for a year or more.
Questions to Consider: Why do I want to be a volunteer?
People decide to volunteer for different reasons. Some people are idealistic, others want to deepen their faith or spirituality, still others have a deep commitment to social justice, or just want to grow personally.
What are the motivations for volunteering?
- Giving back
- Personal challenge
- Hands-on experience for future career
- Something totally different from what you may do in the future
International or domestic service? Things to consider:
- Distance from home
- Might have to establish a completely new friend/support group
- Urban or a rural?
- New or familiar places?
What type of commitment are you prepared to make?
- Short-term commitment: 3-6 months
- Long-term commitment: 1-3 years
What types of skills and issues do you want to be engaged in?
- Particular issues, such as advocacy, business, community organizing, health care, homeless services, legal aid, people who are materially poor, Native Americans, teaching, women’s issues, youth, etc.?
- Issues that could benefit from current skills and knowledge ?
- Issues that would develp particular skills and knowledge ?
- Issues that would prepare you for a particular career?
What type of living arrangement suits you?
- Communal: Do you want to share the common experience with others by living with them?
- Independent: Do you want to live independently and have the support of a community that you meet with on a weekly or monthly basis?
Do you prefer a faith-based or a secular program?
- Faith-Based: can connect service and spirituality
- Secular: emphasizes service, social change, advocacy and/or civic involvement
Questions to explore with Program Representatives:
- Is loan deferment available if I have student loans?
- Is room and board included? Stipend?
- Is simple lifestyle (living on a minimal amount of money) an option or required in the program?
- Is health insurance offered to the volunteers?
- Does the program fund prescription medication?
- Is there an orientation at the beginning and a re-orientation at end of program to get me acclimated to the culture?
- Is there a support system near the placement site?
- Are there times throughout the year when the entire group reconvenes to share experiences and information?
- Is a mentor, spiritual director or mental health counselor accessible?
- Is language training necessary prior to volunteering or provided for volunteers?
- Is travel possible during the service commitment? If so, what support does the program offer?
- Can I bring my own vehicle?
- Who covers daily travel expenses, repairs and car insurance?
- Is use of public transportation expected?
- Does the program pay for transportation to orientation and/or service site? What about the trip home at the end of service commitment?
What type of PLACEMENT does your program offer?
- What work will I be doing?
- Do I need to have previous experience?
- Will you train me to do things I don’t know how to do?
- How long is your program?
- Where will I be serving?
What kind of SUPPORT do you provide your volunteers?
- Will I be trained?
- What do I do if I have a problem at my placement?
- Will there be retreats?
- How often will I interact with other volunteers?