Civic Engagement & Your Career
Top 10 Reasons to Think about Civic Engagement When you Think about your Career
- Career Exploration | Civic engagement activities can give you an opportunity to explore what you want to do. Want to see if you like working with kids? Tutor at a school. Interested in health professions? Teach an exercise class. Wondering if lab research is for you? Try stream sampling in a local wildlife perseveration. Every profession has a public dimension, and a way to connect through civic engagement.
- Networking | Through civic engagement, you can meet people in different organizations and learn what path they’ve taken to get where they are. If you make a good impression, they may be able to connect you down the road to people they know—and you never know what their friends, cousins, neighbors, etc. do or where they work—their network could be your network.
- Recommendations | Your supervisor and co-workers within an organization can be excellent references down the road—if you do a good job. They can speak to your attitude, performance, attendance, initiative, responsibility, and so on in a way that can be very appealing to potential employers.
- Resume & Applications | If you’re volunteering or participating in forms of civic engagement just to put it on your resume, or an application for grad school you might want to rethink things—your ulterior motives will come through and people can tell that you’re not in it for the right reasons—but if you’re participating because you do want to make a difference, then it doesn’t hurt to put your work on a resume or an application.
- Understanding Organizations | Working inside an organization can provide a hands-on experience or insight on how things actually happen—what makes a good (or ineffective) leader, how meetings are run and tasks are delegated, and the variety of work that happens in order to meet certain goals. Plus, you can see how different kinds of professions, such as accountants and technology experts, put their skills to work for a cause.
- Applying Your Knowledge | You’ve worked hard in college to understand the content of your classes. Through civic engagement you can use that knowledge to make a difference in your community. Maybe that psych class will come in handy when you are working with at-risk youth, or the art class will help design a community mural, or the permaculture class will help your work at a school garden. The possibilities are endless!
- Building Your Skills | No matter how good your instructors are at presenting material from “real-world” situations, the real world itself will inevitably create new opportunities to build your skills in an authentic way that has real impact outside of the classroom. Maybe you want to learn how to write a press release, or build a website, or support a kid in need. Civic engagement could give you a chance to practice these skills in a way that supports your continued learning, but also with high stakes of a real situation that can motivate you to do your best.
- Diverse Co-workers & Clients | Working with a diverse group of people is one of the most important skills you can bring to a 21st century workplace. At the very least, you are likely to encounter age diversity through civic engagement and get to work with people from a different generation. You can also encounter all sorts of other people who are co-workers or clients that may be different from you in many respects—educational background, politics, religion, race, sexual orientation, and so on. This kind of experience with diversity is an essential part of your education.
- Interview Answers | When you are looking for a job or trying to get into graduate school, interviewers are looking for specific examples that demonstrate your skills, interests, and how you approach your work. Through civic engagement you can gain experience with projects and people that provide great answers to interview questions like “Tell me about a time when you worked on a project and saw it through to completion” or “What is your experience working with [fill in the blank!]?” Your interviews will be easier because you’ll have lots of experience to draw from through civic engagement.
- Fun | For a lot of students, thinking about career choices and next steps is stressful. You might feel like the decisions you make are setting the course for your whole career or like you have financial pressure to get a job. Civic engagement, while sometimes hard work, can also be a really fun way to prepare for the career choices you have ahead. You’ll have a lot to reflect on from your experience that can help you know yourself better—your strengths and interests—and learn about career options in the process.
Learn how to Get involved today.
Career Resources for Students interested in Civic Engagement
These organizations may be interesting to students thinking about what they can do after graduation to make the world a better place. Please note this list does not constitute an endorsement--students should always research programs carefully and the MCCE can help students think through what to consider.
AmeriCorps | Provides a one-stop-shop for AmeriCorps State and National, VISTA and NCCC members and alumni - presenting a wealth of information and self-service capabilities.
Amizade | Amizade is a global service-learning organization started in 1994 that places volunteers in 9 countries for a wide array of community empowerment projects. Stressing local assets and intercultural immersion, Amizade works in Bolivia, Brazil, Ghana, Jamaica, Mexico, Northern Ireland, Poland, Tanzania, The Navajo Nation and Washington D.C. Amizade partners with the University of West Virginia to offer academic credit.
City Year | A corps of diverse young adults, who dedicate at least a year to civic.
Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest | Connects individuals with one or more years of volunteer service that focus on the core values of community, spirituality, simple living and social and ecological justice.
Lutheran Volunteer Corps | Provides essential services in the areas of education, public safety, human needs, and the environment. Many programs offer the opportunity for hands-on direct service while others involve coordination, development and management of projects.
Peace Corps | Federal government agency devoted to world peace and friendship. The opportunities for Peace Corps service, often the “first step” for those interested in international work, are as diverse as ever.
Public Allies | Allies work four days each week for ten months at a local nonprofit organization where they strengthen their community by working in areas such as youth development, community development, public health, and economic development.
Student Conservation Corps | Offers college students, as well as other adults, extraordinary opportunities to serve our nation’s most prized public treasures: its natural and cultural resources.
Teach for America | Recruits the most outstanding graduating college seniors and recent college graduates to teach in low-income communities across the country. Teach for America participants will be the future leaders in fields such as business, medicine, politics, law, journalism, education, and social policy.
Volunteers for Peace | Volunteers For Peace (VFP) offers placement in international volunteer projects in more than 100 countries around the world including the USA. Projects typically take place over 2-3 weeks but can last up to a year, and are tailored toward the type of project and region a volunteer is interested in.
WWOOF | Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms is part of a world-wide effort to link volunteers with organic farmers
WorldTeach | Based at the Center for International Development at Harvard University, WorldTeach is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that provides opportunities for individuals to make a meaningful contribution to international education by living and working as volunteer teachers in developing countries. They have year-long and summer-long volunteer opportunities, with no age limit for participation.