Have you thought of what you want to do for a career after graduation? Ever considered full-time volunteer service as an option? We usually associate volunteer work with not getting paid, but there are many other benefits that can be associated with volunteering. Volunteer service can offer you opportunities including:
• a chance to serve others
• travel opportunities
• the chance to meet new and diverse people
• valuable career preparation
• the chance to experience something new
• a possible foot in the door for a “real” job
• opportunities for any major
Full-time volunteer service opportunities may not pay much or anything, but they do offer valuable benefits including…
In most cases, agencies will provide volunteers with either free housing and/or meal plans or will provide a living allowance to cover this cost. Allowances tend to be minimal, but usually are enough to get by. Typically, you won’t have to pay to be a full-time volunteer. In some cases, you may receive both housing arrangements and a living allowance!
Almost all full-time volunteer service agencies provide some sort of health insurance. In some cases they may even offer low cost life insurance. You are considered an employee to these agencies and typically will receive insurance benefits.
In most cases, full-time volunteer service qualifies you to defer your student loans. Public service and volunteering allows you a limit of three years to defer your student loans while in service. This can be a big help if you do not have a large stipend to live off of.
Education Loan Repayment
AmeriCorps and Peace Corps both offer educational incentives to volunteer. AmeriCorps has many different service opportunities that offer an Educational Award that can be used to pay off existing or future student loans. Peace Corps service can help reduce a student’s Perkins loan by 15% for each year of service.
Some volunteer opportunities will provide college credit for your service. Check the programs you are interested in for this opportunity.
Training and Professional Development
Many programs offer thorough training programs that can include conflict resolution, problem-solving, leadership skills, and other management related training. Programs might also offer specific training related to the service that you will be providing such as construction skills, CPR, first aid, etc. These skills are all things that can prepare you for future careers.