The Importance of Student Volunteering for Professional Development and Community Connection

Discover how student volunteering boosts professional development and community engagement. Learn how to streamline your university’s volunteer programs.

Student volunteering is an important rite of passage for many young people, providing important opportunities for personal growth, community connection and career development. Although overall participation in student volunteering has declined since the pandemic, there remains a strong interest in certain areas such as animal welfare and health. So how do we look to change this? What is important to students and what do they want from their volunteer experience?

As an educational institution, universities have the unique opportunity to revitalise impactful volunteer programs. Student volunteers bring fresh perspectives, energy and a willingness to make a difference in their communities.

Organising student volunteer programs not only benefits the community but also contributes to professional development and employability skills for students. Volunteering helps build leadership abilities and offers practical experience that can be invaluable when students enter the workforce. Engaging students in volunteer work can also improve local and national community connections, fostering a stronger sense of solidarity and social responsibility. It also provides a great opportunity for students to make connections and build their own community, which is incredibly important to ensuring a positive on-campus experience.

By prioritising volunteer programs and providing resources and support and engaging your student volunteers, you can create meaningful experiences for students. Implementing a centralised volunteer management solution like Rosterfy can streamline these opportunities, ensuring compliance and efficient onboarding.


What is student volunteering, and why should you invest in it?

Student volunteering involves students giving their time and skills to help others without financial gain. This can include internal opportunities like assisting during Open Days or external activities such as joining a community group.

There are different forms of volunteering, some of which naturally complement day-to-day activities at universities. These may include:

  • Community service: Helping local organisations or groups, possibly those affiliated with the university.
  • Event assistance: Supporting events like fundraisers or Open Days.
  • Student groups: Students may choose to volunteer their time as part of a club that runs their own events and networking activities to enhance the student experience. 
  • Ongoing commitments: Regularly volunteering at places like libraries or hospitals.
  • Internships: Volunteering as part of their professional development and in accordance with their course structure. 

Student volunteering is unique as it focuses on helping students develop both personally and professionally. It often takes place in school settings and is youth-focused, although the choice of causes may change depending on who organises the program.

For instance, activities like tutoring younger peers or environmental campaigns will often be organised by the entire university. Meanwhile, individual departments might invest in programs related to their subject matter, like a biology department organising commitments at an animal shelter. Reports like those published by Volunteering Australia can provide great insights into preferred volunteering activities of student volunteers.

Investing in student volunteering offers many benefits for students, including:

  • Personal development: Volunteering helps build skills such as empathy, collaboration and leadership.
  • Community engagement: It connects them with their community and helps them make a positive change, thus providing mental health benefits.
  • Social connections: Provides a platform to meet and interact with their peers. Many students commence university not knowing anyone, so volunteering is a great way to meet new people. 

Motivations for volunteering can include wanting to make a difference, gaining valuable experience or feeling a sense of achievement.

Therefore, supporting student volunteers in those goals can lead to increased confidence and resilience. By encouraging students to volunteer, you help them grow into well-rounded individuals ready for future challenges. It also dramatically increases their likelihood of having a positive experience on campus, which is incredibly important.

Why Universities should consider a VMS (1)

Why volunteering is important for students’ professional development

Volunteering provides a wealth of benefits that can significantly contribute to your students’ professional development, thus complementing the curriculum or extracurricular activities. With a more structured framework guided by academic advisors, volunteer programs can help students gain even more essential skills that are highly valued by employers.


Soft and social skills

Volunteering often involves working with diverse groups, which can broaden students’ perspectives and improve their interpersonal skills. It also allows them to apply acquired skills in real-world situations, helping them feel more capable and independent than in simulated scenarios. Successfully completing challenging projects can increase your self-confidence and prepare you for future career responsibilities. To support academic advisors and volunteer managers in facilitating these personal journeys, Rosterfy provides tools to engage volunteers through personalised content in the form of two-way communication.


Academic and professional advantages

Volunteer experience is a great addition to job applications and resumes. Enterprises appreciate applicants who have dedicated their time to helping others, as it aligns with their goals for career development and social responsibility strategies. As a result, participating in volunteer activities can provide students with experience that is directly relevant to their future careers. For instance, serving on a committee can enhance their facilitation skills, making them more attractive to potential employers.

Consider this: How does your university keep track of your student volunteers contributions? Are different departments recording hours separately?

Systems like Rosterfy provide a central resource for both administrators and volunteers to quickly view hours volunteered, which provides a great resource for students when looking to build up their resume with accurate information. Learn more about Rosterfy’s student volunteer portals here.

It also allows for opportunities for engagement from administrators with the ability to acknowledge and reward volunteers for their time in the form of celebrating milestones (x hours volunteered) and automated certificates to thank volunteers for their time. 

To learn more about how universities can reward and recognise student volunteers, click here to learn more. 


Social and community impact

Volunteer programs can help your university connect with stakeholders from various organisations and backgrounds within your community, helping students broaden their social network and ensuring positive relationships between your university and your community. 

This can lead to lasting partnerships and additional opportunities for collaborative projects. You never know which student might casually mention an idea that later turns into an industry research project. 

Case study: Take a look at how Curtin University in Western Australia is using Rosterfy to strengthen their community partnerships and promote volunteering within their community. Read now. 

Case Study

Compliant volunteers

For the collaboration to work, your university needs to ensure that volunteers are onboarded correctly and that documentation, including WWCC, is regularly checked for projects with vulnerable populations. 

Rosterfy’s automated onboarding streamlines the end-to-end management of volunteer screening, whilst also removing the barriers to mudane onboarding and repeated requests across multiple divisions.  

Rosterfy can even set up auto reminders for expiring WWCC through email, SMS and push notifications via its app so that your university can feel safe knowing your volunteer workforce are compliant within your university. To learn more about Rosterfy’s automated onboarding, click here


Recognition and mental health benefits

While there are opportunities to receive prestigious awards like the Duke of Edinburgh Award, which recognises commitment in volunteer work, that’s only an external motivator, and rarely the most rewarding one, once students get to experience the benefits of volunteering.

Research shows that volunteering has often been linked to better mental health. Engaging in meaningful activities can make you feel happier and more fulfilled, reducing stress and anxiety. 


Finding and curating student volunteering opportunities

Now that we understand the benefits of volunteering for students, finding the right opportunities that align with your students’ professional goals and your university’s values is key. Here are some starting points:

  • Local community resources: Plan collaborations with existing organisations, engage with community centres, local councils, sporting events and teams and non-profits. These organisations often have bulletin boards or websites where they announce volunteer opportunities.
  • University and school programs: Many universities already have student-led initiatives or partnerships with local charities. Identify your university’s profile to align programs with your students’ career paths.
  • Online platforms and resources: Use platforms like SEEK Volunteer to find a broad range of opportunities. You can search using filters to find roles that could match your students’ interests and location and then reach out to the organisation for a more structured approach.
  • National Student Volunteer Week: Consider additional activities during National Student Volunteer Week to network and explore new initiatives, whether those are micro-volunteering efforts, ambassador programs, workshops or student-led initiatives.
  • Using reputable sources: Ensure you’re using reputable resources like Volunteering Australia to find legitimate opportunities for collaborations. Verified sites help filter out unreliable listings.

Volunteering is a path to enriching your education initiatives and connecting with businesses and your local community. By using these resources, your university can help students find fulfilling opportunities and understand the impact of their contributions.


Make your campus a community and prepare students for the future

Students who regularly engage in volunteer programs gain valuable skills and work experience — experiences that are essential for their employability. Participating in volunteering offers hands-on experience that you can’t get from textbooks. Using Rosterfy, universities can facilitate this connection more effectively, ensuring students remain engaged and understand the broader impact of their efforts.

Implementing a centralised volunteer management solution can streamline these opportunities. Services like Rosterfy offer ways to better connect students with volunteer programs, manage onboarding and compliance, enhance engagement through personalised communication and help students understand their impact.

To learn more about the benefits of a centralised volunteer management solution, check out Rosterfy’s whitepaper on volunteer management for universities.

By adopting systems like Rosterfy, universities can ensure their volunteer programs are efficient, impactful, and rewarding for all participants. Ready to see how Rosterfy can transform your volunteer program? Book a demo today!

Similar posts

Join our Newsletter Mailing List

Be the first to know about new Volunteer Management insights, news and feature updates to Rosterfy.