As a recent college graduate I can attest to the fact that student volunteers are a rare breed – they give until it hurts in the name — or pursuit — of resume references and meaningful work experience. One things that sets them apart from other volunteers perhaps is that they are “in the zone” when it comes to learning new things and practices.
Based on my experience, I found that charities and non-profit groups are more than happy to take on a student volunteer because students are generally eager to get some valuable hands-on work experience. When I went back to school it was later in life, so I had a little extra work and life experience to draw on. In some cases, I was even older than my volunteer coordinator. Yet, despite my age and experience, the perception seemed to be that students are only good for basic tasks, which is an attitude that has rankled me ever since.
Recently I came across a fantastic blog from Sam Lee – originally published in One+ Magazine. Lee pointed out that students are equal to short-term employees, provided they have the skill set you’re looking for, and your company or organization has a clear idea on how they will be utilized (I mean, besides coffee runs!).
Lee gave a few tips on how companies can use student volunteers effectively:
1. Learn from the traits of your co-workers: Appreciate who it is you’re working with. A lot of student volunteers are enthusiastic, cheerful, ambitious, willing to learn, flexible and full of creative, fresh ideas that can be used by their more experienced peers.
2. Find the best talent for your position: Contact the university’s career center, where there is a larger student database, which may be able to connect you with a wider range of student talent.
3. Find effective methods for motivating the best student talent to work for YOUR organization: To recruit the best talent, you have to give them clear reasons to work for you. Clearly convey their tasks, how they’ll benefit and how their responsibilities are meaningful.
Read the full article here and we’d love to hear your thoughts on leadership, mentoring and volunteering in the blog comments.