People disagree on impact of volunteering hours in job search

Kristy Mason

Volunteer organizations and employers in Bowling Green disagree on how much volunteering helps students obtain a job.

Some think that volunteering is an essential personality skill needed for a job. Others think that it’s not a factor.

Katie Staples, Western’s Leadership and Volunteerism coordinator of Student Activities said having community service hours reflects a person’s good character and ability to help.

“You’re willing to go above and beyond the call of duty,” Staples said.

Service sororities such as Gamma Sigma Sigma would also agree that there are benefits of volunteering for the job seeker.

“Volunteering is important,” said Elisha Durrett, vice-president of Gamma Sigma Sigma. “It should be beneficial to help the community and not just your job.”

Many volunteer organizations across Bowling Green, such as Habitat for Humanity and Big Brother/ Big Sisters, would strongly advise that service hours are a must for success.

Marilyn King, executive director of Habitat for Humanity, said Western students who volunteer for her organization can benefit in the job search.

“Volunteering here is great to use as a reference,” King said. “Almost every job looks for a representative that is community- minded.”

But Olive Hill junior Mariah Harmon, who has volunteered for Girl Scouts local community centers and her 4-H club, said community service hasn’t helped her land a job.

“I have over 3,000 hours of community service that hasn’t benefited me towards my career but only to be involved in my community,” Harmon said.

She feels that she has grown as an individual from her past experience but has done little to advance her career.

“It might look good, but it doesn’t help,” Harmon said.

Employers in Bowling Green said they rarely look at volunteer experience.

“An applicant’s community service hours are rarely looked at,” said Glenda Vincent, an office manager for the Park City Daily News. “We want our future employee to have some previous experiences.”

Rhonda Cohron, personnel director of the Rosewood Heath Care Center, said she looks at how much dedication an applicant has and how long that applicant worked at his or her last job.

John Miller, field office manager for the state employment office, said internship experience is more essential for students.

“Internships help because you’re working in the field you want to work,” he said. “They are a good help and show that you are prompt for work.”

But volunteering shouldn’t be completely dismissed, Miller said.

“Volunteering is an attractive plus and is encouraged,” he said. “Sometimes people go in fields with few internships available, and volunteering is all you’ve got.”

Employers in Bowling Green said that they rarely care about service hours because the business can’t benefit from it.

Cohron said it simply doesn’t matter how many years students have volunteered for organizations like Boy or Girl Scouts.

“It’s just something we haven’t considered. It could be on their resume, but you never know how devoted they were,” she said. “He or she could have only showed up one or two times a year.”

Reach Kristy L. Mason at [email protected]