Looking to get involved in something meaningful that will have a positive impact on you during your time at Chico State? Civic engagement efforts are inherent to an individual’s success in higher education. The concept that the community is a classroom and students learn from hands-on experience fosters leadership and professional development. Civic engagement reinforces the original principle of higher education, which is the development of leaders and community improvement. Being involved and connected with volunteerism is associated with a higher GPA, leadership, professional development, and graduation. Volunteering isn’t just about giving to others; in fact, there are many personal benefits individuals gain when volunteering. Here are 7 reasons you should volunteer and some awesome opportunities on how to get started!

1. Gain Leadership Skills

Volunteer opportunities give individuals the chance to practice and develop leadership skills such as communication, time management, and problem solving. Volunteer work takes place in a variety of settings, and involves working with diverse populations. This unique opportunity allows volunteers to enhance and expand on their interpersonal communication skills, as they learn to communicate with the diverse groups of people and organizations they are serving. Volunteering also teaches time management, as volunteers often have other obligations such as school, work, family, and social and leisure time, in addition to their volunteer obligations. Along with enhancing and expanding interpersonal communication skills and time management practices, volunteers also learn to adapt to situations and find solutions when problems arise.

2. Make New Friends

In addition to gaining new skills, volunteering is a great way to build and create connections with people. Volunteering opens the door to meeting new people with like-minded interests, and helps strengthen your connection to the community. Volunteering is a great opportunity to meet new people, build and create networks, and learn how to work with diverse populations.

3. Make a Positive Impact In Your Community

Volunteers are invaluable assets to the programs, organizations, and communities they provide services for. There are countless benefits that communities gain from volunteer service. Volunteers support youth through after-school care, improve local education by offering tutoring services, beautify local areas through park cleanups, care for animals in shelters, provide resources for people experiencing homelessness and so much more. Volunteerism can help communities save resources, fill the gaps in critical services, as well as strengthen and bring communities together.

4. Explore Career and Personal Interests

Volunteer work is a great way to explore career paths and personal interests, as it offers the chance to try-out new opportunities and gain experience without making a long-term commitment. Despite knowing that you want to work in a certain field, gaining experience working and exploring the field can help you be sure that a particular career is something you will enjoy. Along with testing out different career paths, volunteer work can also help individuals gain new personal interests. Volunteering gives individuals the space and opportunity for self-development and career exploration which can be very beneficial for choosing ­your path after college and getting to know yourself, your strengths, and your passions. A famous quote captures this concept, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi

5. Develop Job Skills

Have you ever looked at a job listing and noticed how many “required” and “desired” skills are listed? If you are new to the workforce, this can be an intimidating barrier to overcome. How can you gain skills for an entry-level position without having the required and desired skills to land an entry-level role? Volunteer work is a great solution to this problem! In fact, volunteer work helps individuals gain and enhance many transferrable skills that will be beneficial in the workforce. ­Some examples of the valuable, transferrable skills you can gain from volunteer experience include: improved interpersonal skills, teamwork and collaboration, adaptability, time management, decision making, organization, optimizing limited resources and so much more! There are a variety of volunteer opportunities out there and they all come with the potential to gain new skills that will help you build your resume, grow your skills, and develop professional experience that will help you down the road.

6. Improve Your Mental and Physical Health and Well-being

According to a study conducted in 2020, over time, volunteering improves people’s sense of well-being, including their mental and physical health. The study found that in addition to increasing participants’ happiness over time, people who volunteer at least monthly reported better mental health than less frequent volunteers. It’s no surprise that there is evidence to back up what we know; volunteering makes you feel good! Being connected to your community, helping others, and acts of service are intrinsically rewarding and they have a positive impact on your overall health & well-being.

7. Enrich Your Education

When providing service, volunteers gain real-world experiences as they apply and develop a variety of skills. Volunteering gives college students the opportunity to apply their classroom experiences and learning to practical scenarios with real outcomes. It is an opportunity to practice what you are learning, with the added benefit of positively impacting and improving the lives of others and the community you are in. There are many ways to volunteer and get involved in and around campus that can help you feel more connected to fellow students and to campus itself. Community building, skill development, and an enriched college experience are some great examples of the benefits you gain when volunteering.

Now that you know some of the incredible benefits volunteering can provide, let’s talk about some amazing opportunities here at Chico State! Community Action Volunteers in Education aka CAVE, is a nationally recognized, student-led volunteer organization that has been serving the community since 1966! CAVE’s motto “Life is for Learning” supports the program’s philosophy that the community is a compelling classroom for hands-on learning. CAVE’s student volunteers work with diverse and underserved populations, including at-risk youth, school-aged children, senior citizens, unhoused people, as well as working on environmental projects, and with local animal shelters. CAVE offers Chico State students semester-long opportunities that provide academic units, one-time volunteer opportunities, large days of service, community engagement workshop series, and job and internship opportunities. For more information on how to get involved with CAVE, visit our website here and follow us on social media @chicostatecave