When looking for a job, consider social service over quick cash

Katien and Katien

Get a job. It’s easier said than done, especially these days. And no one knows this better than college students.

As we all print copy after copy of our resumes, crossing our fingers for a place in this fickle economy, we can’t help but be filled with a sense of impending doom.

Usually, higher education helps combat minimum wage. But as the recession prolongs, entry into the job market narrows. We can’t help but accept that underemployment, if not unemployment, is a reality.

Many students approach the University with a strategy for financial success. They take classes they hate to obtain a degree with a guarantee. But what about the rest of us? What happens when you choose to pursue your interests instead of your assets?

The answer was found Monday in the Union Ballroom. The Socially Responsible Careers, Networks and Internships Fair was put together by a collaboration of college departments that tend to produce social advocates. Usually, the pursuit of women’s studies, ethnic studies or American cultural studies suggests that one will spend the rest of their life in a University setting, transitioning from student to professor. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Several potential employers brought informational swag to represent their organizations and attract students. While the applicants were trying to convince their future employers they had skills, the non-governmental organizations were in a position to prove they had something to offer as well. Both scrutinized what the other had to offer, hoping to find a good fit.

Colorful displays covered each table and even more colorful individuals filled the room. Each table produced enthusiastic conversations and positive non-verbal signals. Networking? Check.

The variety was astounding. Studying history? The Hancock Historical Museum and the Wood County Historical Center were there. Looking to help your community? United Way was there. Ever thought about volunteering at the Special Olympics? Wood Lane assists children and adults with developmental disabilities. Want to help the elderly maintain their independence? Serving Our Seniors was there. Or maybe you would like to travel and connect with other cultures? First Peoples Worldwide can send you almost anywhere in the world.

The American Association of University Women was seeking an individual with public relations experience. Planned Parenthood provided condoms for the crowd while they expressed a need for an intern familiar with health care and reproductive rights.

But, the bittersweet reality of this particular Career Fair is that there was an overwhelming need for volunteers in the underfunded programs that deal with victims of violence. Everyone is familiar with the Cocoon Shelter, our local refuge for survivors of domestic violence. Many campus organizations donate money. But what about making a commitment and donating your time? They can always use a little extra help.

Both the YWCA and Behavioral Connections have victim advocacy programs for those who have experienced sexual assault because sometimes, the best thing you can do is just be there. Pursuing justice in our complicated legal system can be degrading and exhausting. Some empathy and support from a friend can make all the difference.

While I am grateful for these organizations and their dedicated civil servants, I am troubled by the social statement their presence made. We live in a world where much need is created by the cruel intentions and aggressive actions of other human beings. Pain and suffering is often inflicted by those we love, trust, or simply would not expect. These negative experiences need to be intercepted by those who truly care about humanity.

So, as you decide your destiny and choose your career path, ask yourself one question: Are you interested in providing a service to a person or a corporation?

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