Finding paid summer jobs can be a challenge for students, but for health care students, clinics and other health care offices often have unpaid opportunities that pay career dividends later.
Talk to teachers, advisors, family members and neighbors to find open opportunities near you. It may take a little effort, but volunteering is definitely a time investment worth making. In addition to your own personal development and giving back to your community, you’ll also get to work on time management skills and communication skills.
You’ll collect references
Volunteering gives you an opportunity to ask your questions to working professionals and to connect with people who could end up being your long-term mentors. It also offers opportunity to showcase your dedication to and passion for the cause to professionals already working in your dream field.
Once you complete your volunteer work, ask the people who you’ve worked with to provide you with a letter of reference or collect business cards for people who have seen you at work and who you may be able to use as a reference for future college or scholarship applications.
You’ll add value to your resume
Volunteer work is just as valuable as paid work to colleges and prospective employers. In fact, it may be more important since this work is directly related to your health care field of interest. Include your volunteer activities on your resume under an appropriate heading such as “health-related experience.”
Be sure to present your volunteer positions with the same detail as your paid work. Describe your responsibilities and highlight your experiences—don’t just label it as volunteer work and call it a day! Give yourself a title such as “volunteer nurse’s assistant” or “volunteer medical records clerk.” Underneath the organization’s name, list your various volunteer titles followed by what you did and what you learned in each role, then step back and admire your nice, full resume!
You’ll get to “try before you buy”
You may be absolutely positive that you want to be a physical therapist. That’s great! But what if this position isn’t as great of a fit for you as becoming an anesthesiologist assistant? It’d be expensive lesson to learn that later. Volunteering will help you ensure that the field and position that you commit to are the best fit for you by giving you a chance to explore new options without a long-term commitment.