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Alisha D'souza's picture

Volunteering: What, How, Why.

Volunteering is a good way to gain confidence, meet people, network, and obtain new skills – all while making a difference in the community. The best part about living in the Twin Cities area is the wide array of volunteering opportunities available to you as a student at the University of Minnesota. The diversity of options is so great that you could volunteer anywhere from a hospital to an outreach organization to even a research lab. The best way to learn about what organizations are most suited to your interests and skills would be to attend an information session at The U’s Center for Community-Engaged Learning at this website. You can also talk to a counselor at the center who can help you navigate the vast number of opportunities available to you as a prospective volunteer. In addition, you can even take a service learning class that allows you to earn credits while volunteering!

The following are a few volunteering experiences that I have had the pleasure of partaking in:

  • Volunteering in a Research Lab: The easiest way to volunteer in a research lab on campus is to decide which lab seems interesting to you, and then directly contact the lab and let them know you are interested. Most labs are looking for extra help, so volunteers are welcome!
  • Volunteering in a hospital: The University of Minnesota Medical Center has locations right on campus, both on the East and West banks. Volunteering at the hospital has been one of the most fulfilling experiences for me personally, and I would highly recommend it, especially if you are interested in healthcare. The first step would be to go to their website and fill out an application. Following this, you will be scheduled for a volunteer orientation, where you can decide exactly what role you want to take.
  • InSciEd Out: InSciEd Out is a science outreach program that focuses on getting younger students excited about science by exposing them to actual scientific methods. You can fin more information about this program here.
  • AIESEC: AIESEC is an international volunteer organization that started after WWII to breach cultural differences and enhance personal development by going abroad. You can volunteer and travel to new and exciting places. Programs are based on achieving the sustainable development goals in collaboration with UN - Programs ranges from volunteering with kids in Argentina to working in healthcare in Colombia. You can find more information about AIESEC here.
  • The Aurora Center: This is a non-profit organization at the University of Minnesota that focuses on providing support services for survivors of sexual abuse and relationship violence, while simultaneously educating the campus about consent. You can learn more about the different roles that you can take as a volunteer and about the Aurora Center in general on their website