Half-hearted volunteering a waste

Doing it for the resumé won't make a difference

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

With the added pressure of graduate schools and employment opportunities, students have been coerced into becoming extroverted in hopes of setting themselves apart from other individuals. This has caused many students of all levels to volunteer and join activities that they are not interested in or passionate about. Instead they become philanthropists not for altruistic reasons, but for the selfish intentions of their resumé.

Being one of the older editors at The Gazette, I have seen a change in the vigor of clubs, charities and non-governmental organizations around campus. Groups have become diluted with volunteerism, which essentially starts in high school or earlier. Volunteerism involves participating in activities not out of compassion or devotion but rather for the benefits to a resumé. Unfortunately, these individuals cause me to question the altruistic nature of some of these groups and charities.

I myself succumbed to volunteerism when I was younger, but I have since come to realize that while I was at these institutions all I did was put in my time and then leave. There was no enthusiasm or devotion to these causes and in essence I felt I would be unable to convince other people to become interested in the causes I joined when essential emotions were absent.

What concerns me about those padding their resumés is not whether they can outsmart their future admission officers and employers, but rather the irreparable damage they might cause the organizations. Organizations that were once filled with affection and passion will succumb to the dilution of volunteerism.

Essentially, the people who are now part of organizations are not inspired to go above and beyond. This also leads to the unfortunate idea these people might take volunteer opportunities away from those who are advocates to the cause and could actually make a difference in the end.

Recently, international volunteer groups such as Voluntary Services Overseas and Career Break have been questioned about the impact they really make. Because some students only see these opportunities as an additional way to add glamour to their resumé, the impact of these groups has lessened and has come under criticism.

I am not trying to deter people from joining these causes or ridicule those who join groups that are uncertain on what they want to do. However, if individuals continue to volunteer for selfish reasons it will diminish the positive effects that these groups have worked so hard to produce. It personally took me a couple of years of trying new and old things to finally understand where I wanted to commit my time and passion.

Different experiences in life have made me the person I am and most of them have come through volunteering. What people need to do is think carefully on what they join and volunteer for; justify your reason with more than just “that would look good on my resumé.”

If not, organizations and the causes they fight for will never succeed and eventually a social acceptance of volunteerism will be the norm.

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