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Question on Volunteering

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Question on Volunteering [#permalink] New post 26 Jan 2013, 08:25
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Hello, I intend to apply for Fall 2014. Currently in GMAT study phase. I don't have much volunteer or community service to speak of on my application. I also don't see myself having the time to volunteer on a regular basis, at least until I get my GMAT target score under my belt. I'm working 45 hr per week job plus 12+ hours of GMAT study per week. I only get about two weeks worth of vacation days per year. So I was thinking of using a vacation week in April to do some volunteer work, either abroad or somewhere in the US. I'm thinking the likes of habitat for humanity or this program called GVI abroad where they organize volunteer trips and building projects in the likes of Kenya Africa and other places.

I read that admissions prefer long term volunteering within your community. But would they frown upon a one week volunteer trip.

Would my idea have any positive effect on my application if it was just a one week volunteer program? How important is volunteering on application? If admissions view it negatively or neutral, I think my vacation time could be spent better working on GMAT or essays.
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Re: Question on Volunteering [#permalink] New post 26 Jan 2013, 08:40
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I think you're approaching your bschool application like a checklist:

College degree: check
GMAT: in progress
Job: check
Volunteer work: nothing

I personally don't think this is the right approach. Business schools nowadays want to see the entire person. Sure, you can craft an essay, take a standardized exam, hold down a job, but who are you besides that? Volunteering for a week in Africa isn't going to do anything for your application, unless it means something to you and can add to your overall story. Do you have family in Africa whose community you want to help? Or are you just finding a way to volunteer in Africa because you think it will sound impressive to an adcom? It won't.

Yes, you should be involved in your community in some way. And yes, everyone is busy and certainly we all might have "better" things to do than [insert generic volunteer opportunity here]. However, you should be a part of your community in a way that will be impactful to you and your community -- whether that's something more "traditional" like helping out in a senior center or a food kitchen, or something a little more "off the beaten path", perhaps you work with an organization bringing music to children because you've played the cello for 10 years or you help to bring local produce to the community because you worked in a grocery store in high school or you grew up on a farm.

Bottom line: Do something that matters to you, that you would be proud to say you're apart of. Don't volunteer for a week here or there just because you think you have to.

For more on this topic, visit the Volunteer experience hypothetical thread. It could give you more to think about.


*All situations listed above are hypothetical.
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Re: Question on Volunteering [#permalink] New post 26 Jan 2013, 08:53
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pgrennin wrote:
Would my idea have any positive effect on my application if it was just a one week volunteer program? How important is volunteering on application? If admissions view it negatively or neutral, I think my vacation time could be spent better working on GMAT or essays.


When I was in high school, I always hated when people did something because "it looks good on a college application." When I was in college I hated when people did something because "it looks good on a resume."

Do things you WANT to do and are INTERESTED in. If you're interested in habitat for humanity, go for it. Also, keep in mind that's something you can probably get involved in on a more regular basis. If you're doing it just to list it in the activities section, I wouldn't do it.

Also, it doesn't have to be all about volunteering or community service - adcoms know that not everybody is running a soup kitchen or volunteering at the children's hospital. Do you have any interests you're consistently involved in? You can always highlight that in your application. For example: I wasn't involved in clubs in college, but I worked part-time my freshman year, I did a 7-month CO-OP my Junior year, I played various intramural sports every year and I also hit the gym 3-4 times a week, so I made sure to show the adcom I was doing things with my time other than going to class and subsisting on a twinkie and beer diet.
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Re: Question on Volunteering [#permalink] New post 26 Jan 2013, 09:05
Thanks for your reply. I know it sounds kind of selfish or whatever that I would volunteer just to improve my application.

I understand that the volunteer work should meaningful to me and should be a long-term commitment. I just never got into volunteering, unless it was for school or required, so I don't know what I would volunteer for other than the quintessential soup kitchen.

Also, another major outside extracurricular I do is martial arts which I've done three years now for about about 3-4 times a week. That also takes up some time, so could at least use that to demonstrate I have extracurriculars.
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Re: Question on Volunteering [#permalink] New post 26 Jan 2013, 10:25
pgrennin wrote:

Also, another major outside extracurricular I do is martial arts which I've done three years now for about about 3-4 times a week. That also takes up some time, so could at least use that to demonstrate I have extracurriculars.


Bingo. That's a good one, it shows there's more to you than your job, and you have some history with it so it's obvious you didn't start doing it when you decided to apply to Bschool. Also, do you like to coach/mentor/give pointers to some of the newer guys? That's another angle you could work with it.
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Re: Question on Volunteering [#permalink] New post 26 Jan 2013, 14:13
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i absolutely love the concept of volunteer vacations. Pay $7k to live in a mud hut in Africa for 10 days and writing an essay about their struggles on the airplane ride back. No the adcom will never think you did it for the resume boost ;)
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Re: Question on Volunteering [#permalink] New post 26 Jan 2013, 14:23
Fair enough, when you say it like that it sounds stupid

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Re: Question on Volunteering [#permalink] New post 26 Jan 2013, 14:26
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CobraKai wrote:
pgrennin wrote:

Also, another major outside extracurricular I do is martial arts which I've done three years now for about about 3-4 times a week. That also takes up some time, so could at least use that to demonstrate I have extracurriculars.


Bingo. That's a good one, it shows there's more to you than your job, and you have some history with it so it's obvious you didn't start doing it when you decided to apply to Bschool. Also, do you like to coach/mentor/give pointers to some of the newer guys? That's another angle you could work with it.


You forgot to tell him to sweep the leg...
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Re: Question on Volunteering [#permalink] New post 26 Jan 2013, 21:16
highwyre237 wrote:
CobraKai wrote:
pgrennin wrote:

Also, another major outside extracurricular I do is martial arts which I've done three years now for about about 3-4 times a week. That also takes up some time, so could at least use that to demonstrate I have extracurriculars.


Bingo. That's a good one, it shows there's more to you than your job, and you have some history with it so it's obvious you didn't start doing it when you decided to apply to Bschool. Also, do you like to coach/mentor/give pointers to some of the newer guys? That's another angle you could work with it.


You forgot to tell him to sweep the leg...



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Re: Question on Volunteering [#permalink] New post 26 Jan 2013, 21:51
bond007 wrote:
i absolutely love the concept of volunteer vacations. Pay $7k to live in a mud hut in Africa for 10 days and writing an essay about their struggles on the airplane ride back. No the adcom will never think you did it for the resume boost ;)


I know you arent picking on me here, but wanted to offer a different persepective. I did a volunteer vacation for about 10 days to Africa. It was a chance to see a different part of the world in a way I wouldnt get to experience on a regular vacation so I got a small group of friends together and we did it. Definitely worthwhile and a different look on the world.

Just never came up on any of my applications (for the reason I didnt want them to think I was gunning for a resume boost), but I would still reccomend doing it.

I think everyone has the right idea above though. Don't do it to pad the resume. Adcom will sniff right through it, you won't enjoy it, and your wasting time and effort. Martial Arts probably makes for a pretty cool essay topic or paragraph in an essay.
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Re: Question on Volunteering [#permalink] New post 26 Jan 2013, 21:56
It is a fact that all countries do not have similar community involement opportunities and that there are jobs that require 80 hrs a week.
I find it quite strange actually. If you started volunteer activities recently you cant add into your apps, but if you start it between application and re-applicaiton, you can add and it will boost your app. May be too naive on this topic, but strange isnt it?
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Re: Question on Volunteering [#permalink] New post 27 Jan 2013, 09:25
CobraKai wrote:
pgrennin wrote:

Also, another major outside extracurricular I do is martial arts which I've done three years now for about about 3-4 times a week. That also takes up some time, so could at least use that to demonstrate I have extracurriculars.


Bingo. That's a good one, it shows there's more to you than your job, and you have some history with it so it's obvious you didn't start doing it when you decided to apply to Bschool. Also, do you like to coach/mentor/give pointers to some of the newer guys? That's another angle you could work with it.

Just wanted to say thank you for pointing this one out. I'm in shoes similar to pgrennin's and neglected to think that my bicycle racing addiction may warrant mention on the app. Suppose I never thought that the volunteering and/or activities section could include things other than the usual. Thanks.
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Re: Question on Volunteering [#permalink] New post 27 Jan 2013, 18:31
For the record, besides being an alumni interviewer for undergraduate admissions for my alma mater (which barely takes any time out of my year), all of my outside-of-work activities have been paid positions, and I was able to get into top schools. Everyone has his/her own path with things that they do outside of work, and volunteering, while noble, is only one of many things that you can do. The question, as echoed by other people in this post, is more about what it is that you do that gives the adcoms a better idea of who you are as a person and what you could possibly bring to the table if you are accepted into their class.

And that's not to say that you can't accomplish these things at work if you do work a lot. There are things that you can do at work - mentoring, initiatives, etc. - that can help bring that side of you out to the adcoms. But if all you do is work and have you eyes glued to your computer all day, chances are you're not going to be doing much to enhance the experience of your classmates.

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Re: Question on Volunteering [#permalink] New post 31 Jan 2013, 11:11
To that end...what if one simply does not like volunteering?

Without sounding like a jerk (proceed to sound like a jerk), I really don't care about [insert generic cause/food bank/homeless people/whatever]. That may be heartless, but I simply have no interest in helping these people.

That said, mentoring current students at my alma mater, fraternity, and within my profession is very important to me. Based on what I'm reading in this thread, tying those activities into my overall MBA story is the correct path, rather than forcing some fake "pretend that I care" activity over the next few months.

Yes?
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Re: Question on Volunteering [#permalink] New post 31 Jan 2013, 11:15
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To that end...what if one simply does not like volunteering?

Without sounding like a jerk (proceed to sound like a jerk), I really don't care about [insert generic cause/food bank/homeless people/whatever]. That may be heartless, but I simply have no interest in helping these people.

That said, mentoring current students at my alma mater, fraternity, and within my profession is very important to me. Based on what I'm reading in this thread, tying those activities into my overall MBA story is the correct path, rather than forcing some fake "pretend that I care" activity over the next few months.

Yes?


Correct. I think adcom just want to make sure you don't spend all of your free time playing video games, and that you have shown passion in something.
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Re: Question on Volunteering [#permalink] New post 31 Jan 2013, 11:21
highwyre237 wrote:
nickg1386 wrote:
To that end...what if one simply does not like volunteering?

Without sounding like a jerk (proceed to sound like a jerk), I really don't care about [insert generic cause/food bank/homeless people/whatever]. That may be heartless, but I simply have no interest in helping these people.

That said, mentoring current students at my alma mater, fraternity, and within my profession is very important to me. Based on what I'm reading in this thread, tying those activities into my overall MBA story is the correct path, rather than forcing some fake "pretend that I care" activity over the next few months.

Yes?


Correct. I think adcom just want to make sure you don't spend all of your free time playing video games, and that you have shown passion in something.


Thank you. Makes sense.
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Re: Question on Volunteering [#permalink] New post 31 Jan 2013, 11:25
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Most, if not all, schools I looked at had an "extracurricular activities" section of the application, but not a specific "volunteer" section. Volunteering can be one of your ECs, but ECs does encompass a lot more than that.

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Re: Question on Volunteering   [#permalink] 31 Jan 2013, 11:25
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