Friday, July 4, 2008

Public-Service Agencies Offer Unique Opportunities for College Graduates

Volunteering as a way to check out possible career paths is something I often discuss. Yet, after reading The Wall Street Journal’s July 3rd Careers article “Altruism Meets a Weak Job Market” by Anne Marie Chaker, I wanted to talk about a different kind of “volunteering” as a way to do good and, at the same time, increase one’s transportable skills.

First, what do I mean by transportable skills? If you have learned how to help get consensus in a sub-Sahara African village between members of different tribes, you probably can help get consensus between two different factions of a corporate argument.

The Journal article cites rising college graduate interest in such public-service agencies as:

· Teach for America (

· Peace Corps (

· WorldTeach (

· AmeriCorps (

While young people volunteer (apply) for positions with these agencies, this isn’t, strictly speaking, volunteering because there is some form of payment, depending on the agency. And there are often other benefits, such as education awards, access to alum of these programs, and career advice. (These positions are for a definite period of time – usually between one to two years.)

Yet, for the most part, young people who sign up for these public-service stints “volunteer” to teach in low-income public schools or in African villages without plumbing or in impoverished rural areas in the U.S.

If you want to share your expertise with people less fortunate than yourself, consider applying for a position through a public-service agency. Who knows? This new path may lead you to a future you otherwise never would have considered.

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