Career Development Getting Started Making the Most of Breaks Tips for Students

3 Steps to Volunteering at a Local Organization or Shadowing a Professional

9.17.2015--University College students on the Danforth Campus. James Byard/WASHU Photos

Volunteering at a local organization or shadowing a professional in a career of interest is a great way for students to gain additional value from a summer. Such endeavors will allow students to learn more about potential fields of interest, help their communities through volunteerism, and increase the size of their professional networks. Here are some ways to help those who want to get involved with organizations and professionals around their communities.

1. Self-Assessment

Prior to embarking on an experience with a local organization or professional, it is important for students to consider their goals. What does the student hope to take away from this experience? Self-assessment is an important step in determining what experiences students would find meaningful and fulfilling. The Career Center offers several workshops in self-assessment as well as several self-assessment tools that are available to help students. Stop by the Career Center or call to access the following self-assessment tools:

  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a personality inventory that is used to determine an individual’s personality type in order to help with career planning at every stage. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is useful in indicating potential careers worth exploring based of a student’s personality indicators.
  • StrengthsQuest: StrengthsQuest is an online assessment tool geared to indicate a student’s areas of strength. By indicating several “themes” in which students are strong, StrengthsQuest can match students with fields in which students would be able to thrive.
  • Strong Interest Inventory: The Strong Interest Inventory assessment provides insight into students’ interests to allow them to better consider potential careers and educational paths. Completing the Strong Interest Inventory helps students identify their core areas of interest, enabling them to explore potential careers more effectively.

2. Searching for Opportunities

As students begin to identify potential areas or careers that they want to explore they can begin to search for opportunities to fulfill their goals. Students should join the WashU LinkedIn Alumni Group to find and connect with WashU alumni who may be working in a field of interest nearby. Students can also check the Success Stories page on the Career Center website to see where previous students have volunteered or worked and can contact those students directly to learn more about their experiences.

3. Reaching Out

Once students have identified an organization to volunteer with or professional that they would like to shadow, the next step is to reach out. How students should reach out will depend largely upon the organization or professional. For students looking to volunteer for a local organization, students should look for information on how to apply to volunteer online or by contacting the organization directly. If the application process is unclear students should call the organization or reach out via email to learn more. As for shadowing a professional, students should reach out via email asking if a shadowing opportunity would be possible. Be polite when reaching out but also be sure to state the underlying motivation behind pursuing such an opportunity and the dates of interest during which the student would like to shadow the professional.

If students would like some assistance at any point throughout this process, they should call us at 314-935-5930 or email us for advice and guidance.