What can Post-Grad Volunteering do for you?

Written on 7:19 AM by Xavier Career Development

Are you thinking that you're not quite sure about diving into the job market or grad school after Xavier?  Not a problem! Consider a gap year or more of post-graduate service by attending the Post-Graduate Volunteer Fair.  Xavier graduate, Stephanie Howes, describes her life changing experience with Post-Grad Volunteering. 

When I was a senior in college, I was stressing out about applying to grad school and all the work that would follow once accepted. I needed a break from school but I didn’t want to be that recent biology grad that worked in a lab and lived at home.  I wanted an adventure that would allow me to give back. While I was struggling with this decision, the Center for Faith and Justice held the Post-Grad Volunteer Fair. Attending this fair led me to the perfect post-grad opportunity.
When I first got to the fair, it was a little overwhelming. There are a lot of options out there. Thankfully, I had a good mentor at the CFJ who helped me narrow it down to only the projects I was passionate about. I decided that I wanted to work with women or children who have been abused or neglected in some way. This led me to Good Shepherd Volunteers (GSV) because of its mission to provide “full-time volunteers with the opportunity to use their God-given talents to serve women, adolescents, and children affected by poverty, violence, and neglect”. Originally I thought I wanted to go abroad, but through my discernment and interview process, I realized that I should volunteer in my own country and understand the need here before going anywhere else.
In August of 2012, I began my year as a GSV in New York City working with foster care youth in the Bronx. I moved into my apartment in Astoria, Queens, which gave me an opportunity to explore one of the world’s best cities with a built-in group of friends. On top of the volunteer experience, I was able to experience the different cultures NYC has to offer. I learned about race relations through my co-workers and learned about cultural festivals such as Holi (see photo) through the free events around the city. Throughout my year, I was amazed by all the city had to offer and how much fun I was having.
This year was also an important year of personal growth. I learned how to live in NYC on $200 a month for food and recreation. Professionally, I learned how to be a productive member of a busy social services team. I learned about the psychological issues and social justice issues surrounding bad parenting and a broken foster care system. This was hard because I never even looked into foster care. This caused me nights of crying over horrible stories of abuse and neglect, and days of smiles and celebrations of accomplishments of the youth with whom I worked. On top of all this, I learned about me.
My volunteer year created an opportunity for me to learn about myself. I lived in an intentional community with 6 other people. We all had varying religions, worldviews, personalities and experiences. My community members taught me how to resolve conflicts and how to really “agree to disagree”. I learned about Buddhism, Agnostics, and how to be open to questioning. They pointed out questions about my faith and life and helped me to find answers. I learned about my personality and how I present myself. I now have a better understanding of how people perceive me and how to be a more emotionally healthy person. This all came through tools and support that my volunteer staff, co-workers and work supervisors gave to me.
As my year came to an end, the GSV staff asked the current volunteers if anyone would like to go abroad. Since this was my original plan, I was really interested in the opportunity. I was eager to spend another year living in a community with marginalized people and the changes that it would bring to my worldview. I am excited to tell you that in January, I will be starting my second GSV year by moving to Nong Khai, Thailand. There I will be working with communities affected and infected by HIV/AIDS. This will only help my future goals of being a public health official. To learn more about my program please visit: www.gsvolunteers.org or to learn more about next year please go to: https://app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/GoodShepherdVolunteersInc/stephaniehowes.html
I hope that you too consider the post-grad volunteering option. You never know how giving a year to others will change you.

-Stephanie Howes, Guest Blogger
 Xavier University Class of 2012

The Post-Grad Volunteer option could be the best decision for you!  But there is only one way to find out so be sure to attend the Post Graduate Volunteer Fair on October 30th.  Click here to learn more! 

Your possibilities are endless Muskies,
Bridget Tully
Career Development Office Intern 

Let The Job Choose You

Written on 6:32 AM by Xavier Career Development

The thought of joining the “real world” is an exciting, yet scary and stressful idea to ponder.  For that reason I figured it would be helpful to hear about the experience from a recent Xavier grad.  Leslie Boersma graduated from Xavier in May 2012 with a degree in organizational communications and a minor in psychology.  She now works full time as a special events coordinator at the Children’s Hospital Foundation in Colorado.  Here’s what she had to say about her first grown up job!

After talking to Leslie and hearing how much she enjoys what she is doing, my first question was how did she manage to land this coveted position so early in her career?  She told me it was a long journey but it started by simply following what she loves. 

Leslie described to me that her first experience with a non-profit organization was when she volunteered at a Make-A-Wish Foundation event her senior year at X.  That opened her eyes to the concept of raising money for a good cause through fun events.  After learning more about the culture and dynamic of non-profits, she knew that field was something she wanted to be a part of.  Then, after graduation Leslie returned home to Colorado and got a job working at a camp for children with life threatening illnesses. 

I asked her about that experience and she joked, “Well I think essentially they were paying me to be there because the pay was that bad.  But that part did not matter for me because I loved it so much and I was able to constantly meet families, children, and doctors who were involved at the Children’s Hospital which ultimately was where I wanted to be.”  Leslie explained that her experience in the field and her networking opportunities were the difference that allowed her to stand out and land her event coordinating position. 

Leslie is part of a special events team that manages 90-120 events per year.  Her typical daily responsibility is to foster the relationships that go along with event fundraising.  A few of Leslie’s responsibilities include: taking on volunteer recruitment and management, assisting the families with their donation process, and connecting with local community organizations to find ways for them to help.  

“It doesn’t feel like work when I get to work with women I consider friends.  On top of that, I get to plan fun events like golf tournaments, marathons, and fashion shows that raise millions of dollars to save children’s lives.  I get to meet sick children and their families and then have the opportunity to make a difference in their life and see that result first hand.” 

I asked Leslie what her advice would be for students getting ready to join the work force and she emphasized networking, getting experience in the related field, and following what you love to do.  She didn’t know exactly where she wanted to end up working, but she continued to pursue and learn about areas that interested her and from there she said, “The job chose her.”

Love and Muskie Pride,
Bridget Tully
Career Development Office Inter