How to Find a Volunteer Opportunity
If you are interested in volunteering, there are many opportunities at Penn State and in the surrounding community. Many of our Student Affairs offices have opportunities for students to volunteer their time and gain valuable experience. Whether you are passionate about a cause, looking to serve the community, or seeking job skills and experiences there is a volunteer opportunity for you at Penn State.
- Is your organization looking for volunteers? Are you a local agency, community partner, or campus department looking for volunteers? Submit your service opportunities to be sent out on our weekly volunteer listserv.
Volunteer at Penn State or in the Community
Penn State has several Days of Services where students can volunteer on-campus or in the local community.
Looking to travel and volunteer? Check out our Alternative Breaks program. We also maintain a list of local organizations looking for short-term or long-term volunteers.
Volunteer in Student Affairs
- Health Promotion & Wellness Volunteers
- Emergency Medical Services Volunteers
- HUB-Robeson Center Advisory Board
- LGBTQA Student Resource Center Opportunities
- Student Legal Services Advisory Board
Volunteering can look different depending on your personal time commitments, priorities, and needs. For those who are looking to give back in flexible ways that fit your schedule, volunteering virtually could be for you! Check out the ideas and resources below to engage in meaningful service.
The sites highlighted on this page are for general resource sharing and are not affiliated with Penn State.
While engaging in service independently, we encourage you to learn about the topic beforehand and reflect on your experience after. Below you'll also find a quick personal reflection guide to getting yourself started.
- Virtual Volunteering Resources
If you are unable to volunteer in person, there are still opportunities to give back! It is important that you do personal research to make sure that the tasks you do or items you make are needed and will be used. Learning about the program you are volunteering with is crucial to making sure your time is spent doing things that the community will benefit from; do not assume a community’s needs.
Below is a list of general ideas of volunteering while at home along with links to programs that connect volunteers with virtual opportunities.
- Make care cards – Many organizations are accepting cards to send to healthcare workers, seniors, and individuals in isolation. Be sure to find an organization before making cards, some have recommendations and sensitivity guidelines.
- Assemble educational resource kits – With students learning remotely, some do not have the resources they need at home to complete their homework and projects. Talk with local school districts to see if there are specific needs that you can fill.
- Tutor or conduct mock interviews – With less services available for students through school programs, there is a need for folks to provide academic and job preparedness support.
- Provide services to blind and low-vision people – Apps connect sighted volunteers with blind and low-vision individuals through video calls to provide help for quick tasks and errands. One organization is Be My Eyes.
- Help with local to international research projects – Researchers, spanning the humanities and the sciences, need people power. You could help with historical transcripts, climate change, space exploration, and more. One helpful platform is Zooniverse.
There are also resources to look up virtual volunteer opportunities:
- VolunteerMatch - extensive list of volunteering, option to specify “virtual” in search filters
- Catchafire – matches volunteers to nonprofits based off skill sets and needs
- Do Something – geared towards young people to get involved in making positive social change
- United Nations Volunteers– international efforts toward sustainable human development
- Bookshare- make print materials accessible to children and adults with disabilities
Personal Reflection Guide: How to Make Meaning from Service
- Read about the community organization you are serving. What services do they provide? What communities do they support?
- Learn about the social justice topic your service is centered on. Read, listen, and watch materials exploring this topic.
Some ideas to get you started:
- What happened today?
- Describe the people you met.
- What was the flow of feelings during the day: the highs, the lows, the quiet times?
- What questions did your experience raise for you?
- How do you think you will continue to serve after this experience ends?
After taking the time to think about questions that resonate with you, explore your responses and thoughts. Write, draw, create, etc. whatever connects you to your experiences and helps you think critically about the service you did.
Once you've processed your experience, share it with others. Engage in conversations about your service, the social justice topic, and more. Keep learning and invite others along for the ride.