In high school, I always heard about how getting involved at a younger age will help you in the long run, but I never took it seriously. I was selfish. I would have much rather been out with friends or catching up on my sleep when I got home. When I got to college however, everything changed. I spent more time thinking about my future and less about free time. Come sophomore year, almost everything changed.
Sophomore year of college was tough school-wise, but that year was also the time I was thrown in to a job that I found a passion for. It seemed like menial desk work from the outside. On the inside, however, it was a place that I found myself and my passions. During this time, I stepped outside of what I knew and began to plan, run and volunteer for events myself. I never thought in a million years that a job like this would be what I loved.
For three years now I’ve spent time behind the scenes creating well-run volunteer opportunities that focus not just on the service, but on what you get from that experience. Students are selfish, they think more about the hours and not enough about the impact they are having with that one service event. What you really gain is friendships, newfound interests and it connects to people you never imagined you would meet.
Beyond the service and friendships, I do believe I have learned skills that will help me in the future. I learned that sometimes events and concrete plans don’t always go your way or that finding books that 200 kindergarteners enjoy is harder than you think.
Volunteering and service help you forget about the stress of school and allows you to reflect more on how you can better someone else’s day.
What I do know now, is that they were right. Getting involved in something like this would have made me realize my passions earlier. You can’t change the past but now I understand what is so important about service.
If you haven’t thought about service-based learning yet, start. Look for local groups, clubs or organizations on campus or even organizations that need support once in a while. You’ll learn more about yourself, others and the world around you than you think.