WHO ARE YOU CALLED TO BE?
The Center for Social Concerns invites students to consider participating in a year or two of postgraduate service. Serving with a nonprofit agency as a full-time volunteer after graduation can be a great way to explore an interest, pursue a passion, and develop skills and knowledge, all while making a difference in the lives of others in need. Postgraduate service in NOT a year or two "off"—it requires a professional attitude and hard work. Although you will give more than you thought possible working for Americorps, Peace Corps, or one of the hundreds of faith-based service organizations, you will gain much more than you can imagine. You might even find the person you are meant to be. Are you ready to explore the possibilities?
Notre Dame grads are pulled toward service for a number of reasons, including:
- Desire to make a difference
- Thirst for justice
- Actively live out faith
- Live in community
- Discern interests and goals before going to graduate school or pursuing a career
- Develop knowledge and skills
- Build your resume
WHAT IS SERVICE?
Postgraduate service is basically a full-time job in a nonprofit organization that has more demand for services than funding for staff. Volunteers usually receive a stipend and benefits in exchange for work with individuals and communities in need.
Read the alumni reflections in the left-hand column for a glimpse of life as a full-time volunteer.
WHERE DO I BEGIN?
Deciding what to do after graduation is often a daunting task. How can you know which opportunity is best for you?
Begin by asking yourself:
- What type of work interests you?
- What issues are important to you?
- Do you want to work with people? Which populations? (e.g., social service with homeless women or tutoring with children living in poverty)
- Do you prefer a faith-based or secular organization?
- Would you like to live with other volunteers or independently?
- Where would you like to live: urban/rural/suburban area? geographical location?
- What are your financial needs?
- It's okay if you don't know the answers to these and other questions when you begin—they will come as you engage with the process.
What can help?
- Actively research organizations and opportunities: talk to recruiters, and current and former volunteers, read websites and literature, and, when possible, visit.
- Notice what you react to, both positively and negatively. What pulls at you? What is unappealing? What are your fears, concerns? What are you passionate about?
- Talk to Mike Hebbeler or Karen Manier about your reactions—thoughts, feelings, concerns. We are here to help with the discernment process.
- Take the Center for Social Concerns' Discernment Seminar in the fall of your senior year.
- Talk to mentors, advisors, spiritual directors, Career Center staff, rectors, faculty as well family and friends. Ask for feedback about your strengths and challenges. One caveat: how others see you is helpful, but only as a means for recognizing what you know to be true about yourself.
- Realize that no opportunity or experience is perfect; any number of opportunities could be a good "fit" for you.