Volunteering: How Helping Out Helps You Stand Out In the Workplace…

Meryl Weinsaft Cooper , Contributor

Last week was National Volunteer Week, an annual event that, since its inception in 1974, has raised awareness about the growing role volunteerism plays in strengthening communities. But did you know that volunteering could also help you land that dream job?

Many are getting savvy to that burgeoning opportunity. Case in point: LinkedIn recently shared that 1 million members have added charitable causes to their profiles, and that Millennials account for over 60 percent of those who are highlighting their volunteer efforts on the site as a part of their overall professional identity.

So, while some may still say that they can’t afford to work for free, I’d argue that there are quite a few ways in which that investment of time and effort will pay off in the long run:

Helping out helps you stand out: Companies today are looking for well-rounded candidates and actively seeking those kind of “do-gooders” — ones who will ultimately represent them well in the world. In fact (also according to LinkedIn LNKD -0.44%), one in every five hiring managers in the U.S. say they have selected a candidate because of his or her volunteer experience. Why? That kind of work feeds the soul while showcasing your interests — and it’s a perfect way to illustrate who you are and what you care about to potential employers.

Getting your foot in the door: When I was just starting out, I was looking for a position doing music or arts publicity. Without the right connections (and before the assistance of social media and sites like LinkedIn), I struggled. That was, until I began volunteering for a fantastic non-profit called LIFEBEAT, the music industry’s AIDS organization. At the time, they were raising money through a series of after-parties for bands/musicians from Aimee Mann to Busta Rhymes, Sonic Youth to Tony Bennett. Volunteering at one of those events, I was introduced to someone in the process of launching his own music PR firm. Out of that fortuitous meeting came a job offer, which ultimately set my PR career in motion.

Honing your skill set: Volunteering provides the perfect opportunity to build or sharpen your skill set and stay connected to the industry in which you’re interested. This is true for soon-to-graduate folks who haven’t been able to score “real world” experience in their field; it’s also a great opportunity for parents who’ve taken time off to care for their families. It allows you to pursue your passions and get experience that makes you more marketable. For example: Say you don’t have social media skills. You might try finding a small non-profit that needs help in that department. Getting hands-on experience–like growing followers to a Facebook FB -0.67% page or managing the group’s Twitter account–will then give you concrete examples to share on your LinkedIn profile or during in-person interviews.

Figuring out what kind of company you want to keep: Identifying which companies are supporting social efforts will help you focus your job search–particularly if you’re someone who values volunteering. Often those organizations with strong corporate social responsibility (CSR ) approaches also offer a more gratifying workplace. The thought: When employees and management feel they are working for a company that has a true conscience, they will likely be more enthusiastic and engaged in their jobs.

Yes, volunteering is about giving back to the community, but in today’s competitive job market, it has also become a vital point of differentiation for both job seekers and employers. By embracing volunteer work, smart candidates–and companies–are doing good while standing out in a good way.

Have you added your volunteer experience to your LinkedIn profile? What else have you done to polish your online profile? Share it here, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Meryl Weinsaft Cooper is a co-author of Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work (along with fellow Forbes blogger Jessica Kleiman) and co-founder/principal of Allen/Cooper Enterprises, a communications and exhibitions management company specializing in arts and lifestyle clients. You can follow her at beyourownbestpublicist.com, on Facebook or Twitter (@bestpublicist).


What’s News? Finding Service Learning Ideas in the Newspaper.

By Cathryn Berger Kaye, M.A., author of The Complete Guide to Service Learning

Finding Service Learning Ideas in the NewspaperEvery time I pick up a newspaper, I see a story that makes me think, Wow, if students knew about that!

Yes, summer is time off from the classroom. We all need a break, however, most educators are still thinking ahead (at least occasionally!) to when the school bell rings again; a favorite book to teach, an essential concept to know, and a more effective approach to engaging students.

During this “down” time, it’s almost like our antennas are still up, seeking ideas and resources that could interest students in a topic. The word interest has collateral because interest, once stimulated, can grow into curiosity. Once harnessed, curiosity can explode into questioning—which can lead to moving beyond ideas into action.

So, back to the newspapers. These underused print pieces can be energizing to students. Often when consulting at a school, I bring a stack of recent newspapers and distribute the papers to small groups of students. “Look through the paper,” I say, “at headlines, articles, even ads. What do you notice that sparks your interest in an issue or cause that you care about?”

What I find fascinating is that many students are rarely asked, “What do you care about?” so they may not know. However, five minutes with a newspaper reading about endangered turtles, girls not being able to attend school in a distant country, a drought that threatens agriculture, or supermarkets in France selling unattractive fruits and vegetables to reduce food waste, and all I can say is WOW. Students want to talk about issues. They raise questions. They want to know more.

In my book The Complete Guide to Service Learning, I have developed chapters on thirteen societal issues based on what kids of all ages care about. A newspaper story can open the chapter on an issue and trigger curricular ideas, preparation experiences, and scenarios that articulate concepts so that teachers can use the idea to support students in developing purposeful service learning experiences.

What’s more, reading newspapers is academic! And they are current. Check out these ideas for summertime ways to explore what’s news:

Gathering Information About a Community Need

  • Begin saving articles that connect to your academics or might build student interest and curiosity. Consider using the thirteen themes of service as a way to catalog stories in folders. You can download the articles you find online into folders on your computer. With either approach, students can highlight what is most significant and note what is left unexplained, leading to further investigation.
  • Many journalists include an email address in their byline. Students can write to them with questions about how research was conducted. In the same newspaper, often the same writer covers a topic over time. Keep track of your favorites. Send an email and see what happens!
  • Invite a newspaper journalist to be interviewed by your class in person or online. This approach has been used by teachers and faculty from primary grades through university level students.
  • For very young students, use newspapers designed for elementary children. However by grade four, many teachers say students can read the regular news.
  • Some newspapers have excellent graphs, photographs, and other visuals that can assist in connecting math and analysis to various topics.
  • Opinions? Newspapers have them. This section can help students learn the difference between fact and opinion.
  • For artists, use editorial cartoons as academic content.

Thoughts and ideas? Your response is appreciated and can be emailed to cathy@cbkassociates.com.

Happy Summer!

Cathryn Berger Kaye, FSP AuthorCathryn Berger Kaye is the author of The Complete Guide to Service Learning and coauthor with Phillipe Cousteau of Going Blue: A Teen Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands and Make a Splash! A Kid’s Guide to Protecting Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands. For more about Cathryn Berger Kaye and her global offering of workshops and presentations at conferences and schools or her Summer Service Learning Institutes, visit www.cbkassociates.com or email cathy@cbkassociates.com.

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The people living in the Lewis-Clark Valley are no strangers to good works. When folks are in trouble, their neighbors are quick to step in, whether it’s with money, food or service. However, once in a while even the good folks in the valley need some help, and on Thursday, July 9th, our corner of the world will have some of our nation’s finest lending a helping hand.

That’s when a group of AmeriCorps NCCC members (National Civilian Community Corps) will convene in Lewiston; and when they leave community gardens will have been pruned, weeds pulled, and if everything goes accordingly, a little good cheer enjoyed by residents and volunteers.

AmeriCorps NCCC is a national service organization for people ages 18-24. AmeriCorps members are assigned to one of five campuses (Denver, Sacramento, Baltimore, Vicksburg, Ms., and Vinton, Iowa), and they travel as an assigned group to various communities in their region to help with projects. The group visiting Lewiston is from the Sacramento campus.

NCCC members work on teams with 8-12 members and receive a living allowance of approximately $4,000 for 10 months of service. They also become eligible for the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award if they successfully complete their program. This award can go toward student loans, college tuition or other educational costs.

The program is modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s and the US military. It was built on the belief that civic responsibility, according to their website, “is an inherent duty of all citizens and that national service programs work effectively with local communities to address pressing needs.”

Currently, nine NCCC members are serving in the Palouse area and on Thursday they will be in Lewiston to help Backyard Harvest, the LCSC Learning Garden, and Asotin Food Bank.

Backyard Harvest and LC Service Corps are coordinating this day of service and a special gathering in the evening at Hells Gate State Park. From 5-7pm, the NCCC volunteers will be at Hells Gate State Park swimming area for a potluck picnic. AmeriCorps members and alums, former Peace Corps members and anyone interested in learning more about these programs or wishing to thank volunteers for their service are welcome to stop by and visit.

Bosses prefer career starters with volunteering experience – CMI.

06 July 2015


Employers favour entry-level applicants who have social-action work under their belts, says CIPD – but are failing to let jobseekers know

Jermaine Haughton

Entry-level applicants who have volunteered for social causes are considered more employable, according to new research.

Published by CIPD in partnership with the #iwill campaign, the report showed that more than two-thirds (67%) of bosses think that career starters who have taken part in fundraising, volunteering and charity work have more job-friendly skills to offer than those who are coming into the workplace cold.

According to bosses polled for the report, the Top Three skills that candidates with volunteering experience have are teamwork (cited by 82%) communication (80%) and understanding of the local community (45%).

However, the report – Unlock New Talent: How Can You Integrate Social Action in Recruitment? – also found that employers have done little to acknowledge the value of those skills during the recruitment process. In fact, less than a fifth (16%) of bosses currently ask any questions about social-action experience on their applications forms – and only 31% ask about it during interviews.

CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese says that volunteering experience must be more widely integrated in organisations’ personal development plans and resourcing strategies. He explained: “A key challenge for recruiters is that candidates often fail to highlight their social-action experience unless given the opportunity to do so – as many still regard traditional work experience as being more important to employers.”

Critiquing bosses who fail to seek out candidates with social-action experience, the report says that HR chiefs run the risk of missing out on talent by overlooking individuals who have developed their skills outside education and standard work experience.

Cheese added: “With the difficulties that many young people also face in terms of securing good quality work experience, it’s clear that social action has a huge role to play in terms of skills development. By failing to uncover this experience during the recruitment stage, employers could be missing out on enthusiastic individuals who have precisely the types of employability skills organisations tell us they need and struggle to find.”

Among its recommendations, the report advises employers to make tangible references to their third-sector work and partnerships in recruitment-related materials; to highlight on job adverts that social-action experience is relevant, and to provide greater guidance to young workers on how candidates should market themselves on applications.

Report partner the #iwill campaign, which aims to make social-action volunteering the norm for young people aged between 10 and 20, is coordinated by social-action charity Step Up To Serve. Its chief executive Charlotte Hill argued that businesses can only benefit from the well-developed soft skills that volunteers tend to have. “We hear time and time again that, first and foremost, employers want young people with resilience, enthusiasm, good communication skills and creativity – not academic ability alone,” she said.

“There is no doubt in my mind that getting involved in high-quality youth social action helps develop precisely the kinds of attributes and skills that all businesses are looking for. Add to this that such participation has a positive impact on the communities in which these young people live, and you have a genuine ‘double benefit’.”

Hill added: “This is why we are calling on employers to recognise the value of youth social action in their recruitment processes. If young people know employers value this, more will take part and more will develop the skills employers are looking for. So please do consider the practical steps in this report, and whether your organisation can commit to helping our young people realise their potential.”

In April, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to grant 15 million people the chance to do paid volunteering if the Conservatives won the General Election – a victory that came to pass the following month. Following Cameron’s statement, Chartered Management Institute (CMI) director of strategy Petra Wilton said: “We welcome this new political focus on the value of volunteering. CMI research has shown that volunteering can be hugely beneficial to employees, their employers as well as to local communities and charities. Volunteering often puts people outside of their comfort zone, gives them new working experiences and leads them to develop new management and people skills that they can bring back to their workplace.

“However,” she added, “any scheme should ensure that days off for volunteering deliver real benefit to the individual, their employer and to the organisation they volunteer for. Rather than making such time off a mandatory requirement, the scheme may be far more effective if workers are given the right to request leave for volunteering. This would better ensure that both employers and employees can be confident that it will be mutually beneficial experience.”

Did you know LCSC has a field school very similar to this one? It’s objectives are:

  • To develop an understanding of Andean and Amazonian communities through the study and discussion of two ethnographies and travel in Ecuador.
  • To give students study abroad and hands-on field research experience.
  • To provide direct, experiential connections to the social and biological diversity of the Ecuadorian Andes and Amazon through guided field visits, service learning, and independent research.
  • To explain the contributions of anthropology for identifying and solving practical, contemporary social issues by discussing and analyzing current topics using an anthropological approach.
  • To apply critical thinking and analytic skills to representations of human culture within and outside the discipline of anthropology by reading course materials for assumptions and viewpoints with ethnocentric bias or other forms of bias.
  • To write and present clear, concise, and organized essays and papers analyzing social science/anthropological issues.

The Greater Good

Preparing Students for International Service Learning in Peru[1]

[the what] This will be the third year that the Peru Service-learning and Spanish Immersion Program is running at Binghamton University. The Peru Program is a collaboration between Binghamton University’s Department of Public Administration in CCPA, Office of International Programs (OIP) and Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), along with one on-site language partner and three service partner organizations in Peru. The Peru Program is an international service-learning program organized around an academic course (titled “Local Development in the Andes”) which begins at Binghamton University prior to leaving the United States. The course, which I teach, provides an opportunity for students of diverse backgrounds and interests to learn about the dynamics of sustainable development with a focus on the Andean Region in Latin America. It situates local sustainable-development practice within its interconnection between environmental issues, economic viability, social equity and…

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One of the many creative ways to learn and serve.

Nonprofit organizations from across the Valley came up with a slew of clever ways to inspire donors to open their pocket books on Thursday, the third annual Idaho Gives.

Donors were able to support their favorite nonprofits on the Idaho Gives donation website during a single 24-hour period. When that window closed at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, the event had raised a combined $1,079,656 — easily surpassing the $750,000 raised in 2014.

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Janice Fulkerson, executive director of the Idaho Nonprofit Center, the event organizer, said she watched the Idaho Gives website go live at midnight. Pre-scheduled and live donations started popping up on the home page immediately. She got just a few hours of sleep before starting her day. It included Idaho Gives proclamations by Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd and Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little.

While gathering donations is serious business for the organizations that rely on them, humor had a place on Thursday.

Friends of Zoo Boise brought a skunk to visit donors on Main Street. A member of the Winter Wildlands Alliance crooned a Johnny Cash tune on a rainy stretch of sidewalk. A real-life garden fairy cut a ribbon with a giant pair of scissors at the Idaho Botanical Garden, officially opening a new, long-anticipated entrance gate.

Boise Bicycle Project staffers took to their bikes at midnight. They planned to spend the entire 24-hour Idaho Gives period pedaling from site to site. They were at Washington Elementary in Boise’s North End at 8 a.m., partnering with the nonprofit Boise Elementary Spanish for a bike giveaway and Spanish lesson heavy with bike-centric words.

Chad Ishiyama, executive director of Boise Elementary Spanish, said the organization was participating in Thursday’s event to help raise public awareness of small nonprofits like his, a language program active in 10 local elementary schools. While Boise Elementary Spanish has participated in Idaho Gives each year, 2015 was its first “big campaign,” said Ishiyama.

Ann DeBolt, a botanist at the Idaho Botanical Garden, said she believes more people are aware of the day-long giving event than in the past.

“I’ve heard people talking about Idaho Gives who you wouldn’t necessarily expect to be talking about Idaho Gives,” said DeBolt.

The Idaho Botanical Garden is trying to raise money to build a new, larger education building on its site as well as enhance its children’s garden.

Donations to Idaho Gives are tax-deductible. The organization has already started plans for its 2016 event, including a date: May 5.

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“Students, staff and faculty of Lewis-Clark State College hosted the Third Annual Art of Giving food drive and matching fundraiser hold in conjunction with the Art Under the Elms festival during the 31st Dogwood Festival.

What has been dubbed the “Send Hunger Packing” campaign is an annual event that collects food and money for several Lewiston and Asotin food banks, including this year the Asotin County Food Bank, the Community Action Partnership, St. Vincent de Paul, The Roc – Rescue Mission, and the YWCA.

Last year the diverse campus groups making up the Art of Giving, with the help pf matching funds, raised $2,000. This year they were able to raise over $1450.

The Art of Giving is a way for people to have fun while helping out the local food drive by either voting on their favorite can sculpture for a penny or entering a drawing for a basket of prizes for a dollar or two food drive items.

The second annual can sculpture contest took place between three clubs: the Political Science Club with a voting booth and the White House on top, the Anthropology Club rebuilding the Valley of the Kings, and for the first time the new Sustainability Club also known as the Green Team with a pyramid of food covered in plants and a recycling symbol. The ASLCSC also created a non-competing LC logo. The sculptures could be voted on for a penny as many times as the voter liked and whoever received the most votes (donations) in a jar would win a trophy to keep in the club adviser’s office for the entire year. In addition to this the Political Science Club matched up to $250 dollars in donations. This year’s winners with over 14800 votes (pennies), and so far the undefeated champions, are the members of the Political Science Club advised by Dr. Leif Hoffmann and Dr. Timothy Lynch.

Non-competing due to the fact they have the opportunity to plan in advance as well as first choice of materials was the Engineering Club with a large bridge. Many festival goers commented throughout the three-day festival on the outstanding eye-catcher the Engineering Club had created.

Upon entering the drawing for a dollar or two food drive items, the donor could chose a basket for which he or she liked to put their name in. The drawing could be entered an unlimited amount of times. The three baskets represented different themes: a movie night at home, a day on the golf course, and a family game night.

In addition to raising funds, the Art of Giving volunteers, coordinated by the LC Service Corps, collected (a large amount of food) from the LC Valley community with a large portion coming from the Normal Hill area. LCSC and the Art of Giving organizers would like to thank the community, the Normal Hill donors, the volunteers, the LC clubs and everyone else involved.”

The LC Service Corps would also like to thank 4imprint. The Art of Giving planning committee, LCSC Sustainability, and the Green Team (student club) were concerned about the hundreds of plastic bags used in past years polluting and hurting volunteers. To eliminate these concerns, we (the LC Service Corps) submitted a 4imprint One-by-One grant. We received %100 of what we requested: 500 overstock reusable bags for the LCSC Art of Giving food drive for next year and upcoming years. There will be no more plastic waste floating around, annual plastic bag donations, or food falling on volunteer’s feet at the food drive. The donated bags were overstock, so we are reusing in this sense as well. Thank you 4imprint!

“Idaho Gives is a statewide, 24-giving day taking place on May 7th and it’s all online!

Every year on one amazing day, people across our state come together for Idaho nonprofits. It’s a day to celebrate the awesome work of Idaho’s nonprofits and benefit from the power of many. Idaho comes together—be a part of it!

Donors who give on “Idaho Gives” day on May 7 will have more than 580 nonprofit organizations with more than 675 causes, from every region in Idaho, to choose from when they make their charitable donations. “We are very excited at the diversity of nonprofits who have signed up for Idaho Gives this year, and that a huge number of new nonprofits are participating in this great day for Idaho,” said Janice Fulkerson, Executive Director of the Idaho Nonprofit Center, which is presenting the event. “There really is a nonprofit cause for every donor. Donors will find causes that support needy families, help animals without homes, organizations that provide cultural experiences we cherish, and everything in between!” Last year, Idaho Gives raised more than $780,000 for causes across Idaho, with donors from each of the 44 counties pitching in to help. Modeled after highly successful giving days in other states and cities, the organizers hope to see a similarly successful event this year, in terms of increased donations. The event mostly takes place online, driven by a central idahogives.org web site, where donors can learn about and designate funds for nonprofits in a variety of categories. Corporate and individual donors have contributed an additional $55,000 for a pool of award funds, which will be distributed to nonprofits through random drawings and daylong contests, allowing organizations and donors to multiply their donations. Idaho Gives allow nonprofits to elevate their profile, expand their online and social media presence, call attention to the work they’re doing, and raise critical funds. Idaho Gives is sponsored by Idaho Central Credit Union, PacificSource Health Plans and the Idaho National Laboratory. For more information, go to http://www.idahogives.org, or look for Idaho Gives on Facebook and Twitter”

Govenor Otter appoints Maldonado as member of 'Serve Idaho'

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LEWISTON, ID – Lewiston’s youngest City Council Member is now a member of the Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism.

Jesse Maldonado was elected to the Lewiston City Council when he was just 18-years-old. Governor ‘Butch’ Otter appointed Maldonado as a member of ‘Serve Idaho.”

The commission encourages voluntary public service and volunteerism throughout the state. Right now the Gem state ranks second in the nation for volunteerism.


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