Volunteer Work = Interview Fodder

Guest Post by Beth Earnest:

When I was a junior or senior in high school, I realized (too late) that there was a significant lack of volunteer work in my college applications. In a panic, I rushed to get myself signed on at the local nursing home as a volunteer. It was a terrible experience, and I wound up going there only a few times before I quit in frustration.

It wasn’t until I started at Valparaiso University that I started to understand the importance of service work—not just as a resume builder, but also as a missing piece in my life. My sophomore year, I became a member of Alpha Phi Omega, the service fraternity, and I participated in two different Habitat for Humanity spring break trips that were sponsored by St. Teresa of Avila. In each situation, I learned something new about myself, and I felt I made a difference in others’ lives.

But, of course, you already know the value of service work. What you may not know is how it becomes a factor when you’re looking for gainful employment after graduation—specifically, during job interviews.

While potential employers want to hear about your education and work experience, they also ask you many open-ended questions. Some examples:

  • Tell me about a situation in which you showed leadership.
  • Tell me about a particularly challenging situation. How did you handle it?
  • Have you ever encountered a person with whom you had difficulty working? How did you overcome those challenges?
  • Tell me about a situation in which you showed initiative.

You get the idea. Think about the volunteer experiences you’ve had over the past few years. Have you encountered any challenging people or situations? Have you shown leadership? Have you demonstrated your ability to think outside the box? Use it all! College is about the whole student life experience—not just the classes you take and the internships you complete. Potential employers want to know who you are as a person, and talking about your volunteer work is a great way to show them.

Beth Earnest, ‘00

Valparaiso University Alum, Greater Milwaukee Area

~Thanks from the VV Team!

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