Summer is soon approaching. Have you had the chance to make plans for the summer, whether it be working, interning, traveling or doing nothing?
Most students are trying to fill their time with summer internships or summer jobs to either gain some "real-life" experience or make enough tips waiting tables to pay for their books in the fall. But have you thought of another way you could fill your summer? Volunteering. I know it sounds crazy to spend your time doing something and not getting anything back, or so you think you won't get anything back, when you might actually get the most rewarding experience.
I know that each semester I hear of all of these great volunteer opportunities, but between interning, classes, and extracurriculars, I just do not have enough time. After starting to plan for the summer, I realized that all I am doing this summer is interning. No class, no extracurriculars, and most importantly, no all-nighters. So that leaves me with plenty of time to do something else, volunteer. I now have time to do something meaningful and do something to give back to my community.
Alright, so you realize you have all of this extra time and would like to try volunteering. The next step is finding a place to volunteer. There are numerous sites out there that are dedicated to just that.
Here are a few:
Chicago Cares is a site that lists multiple nonprofits in the Chicago area. All you have to do is search through the various opportunities and pick which one works for you and them sign up for the spot.
Chicago Nonprofit is a site that lists every nonprofit in the Chicago area with a description of the nonprofit. This is a perfect starting point if you are trying to find an organization that interests you. Just choose an organization and pick up the phone and ask to volunteer. It's that easy!
Idealist.Org is another great resource. It is very similar to Chicago Cares, where the site lists organizations that are looking for volunteers and then posts opportunities that are available. The main difference with Idealist.Org is that it lists opportunities for almost any city in the country, which is great if you plan on going home for the summer.
Campaign season is back and the Obama administration is gearing up to launch its campaign to get Obama re-elected in 2012. Visit his site to find volunteer opportunities within the campaign. His team is definitely going to be loading up its Chicago office to get the campaign started off right. This is another great opportunity if you have a passion for politics and want to see the behind the scenes work.
Now you have the resources to find the perfect volunteer opportunity for you. Fulfill that desire to help others that you have always had, whether it be working at an animal shelter, a food kitchen, a local garden or advocating for a cause you care about. Use these resources to do something meaningful with your summer. You will not regret it.
Find or know of a great organization that needs volunteers? Let us know at @Chicago_U or on our Facebook page!