After graduation, the question "What should I do with my degree?" fills our thoughts on a constant basis.
With headlines expressing concern for high unemployment rates and crippling student debt, a quick Google search leaves most of us questioning the worth of our degrees at some point or another. However, simply correlating college degrees with potential earnings can lead us down a dangerous road of metrics, one filled with comparison, but void of any real substance. This is because the value of education extends far beyond monetary rewards. It affords you ability to think analytically, form opinions, and live a fulfilling life that aligns with your personal beliefs and values.
"Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all."- Aristotle
One of the most influential classes I took while at SVC was a theology course taught by Dr. King called God, Work and Money. This class allowed us to explore topics such as poverty in America and the role money plays in our lives. Through a series of self-reflective papers, Dr. King also encouraged us to discover our passions and engage in meaningful work throughout our careers. Upon completion of the class, students felt inspired to use their education to benefit society; regardless of whether or not they were paid for their efforts. Abby Bryant's blog, which tells about her experiences as an Agribusiness Volunteer in the Peace Corps, perfectly demonstrates this act of giving back.
Below you will find some of the ways I use my business degree to give back as well!
1. Mentor Students
As a student at SVC, several Alumni took the time to mentor me and help me though the stressful job-searching process. Last winter, these phone calls and meetings over coffee provided the advice and support I needed to make the transition from college student to young professional. Sherrie Dunlap C'09 generously took me under her wing after I graduated last December. Whether it was helping to calm my nerves or giving me career advice, Sherrie always took the time out of her busy day to mentor me through the interviewing process. Her passion and commitment to the SVC community was both inspirational and motivating as a young graduate.
Professors and the Career Center never hesitate to set you up with alumni who can help you in your field. It's one of the great things I appreciate about our close-knit community. Now I enjoy helping business students prepare for interviews as well. It's common to find me on a 6am phone call before work helping to prep a student for an upcoming interview. My reach has extended far beyond SVC as well. Just the other week, I held a workshop at Western Nevada College on Interviewing and Resume Building to help students develop marketable skills in a competitive job market.
2. Teach Personal Finance
The class God, Work and Money inspired me to use my finance degree and creative abilities to help address a need in my local community. Currently, I am developing a personal finance course to teach to the rehabilitated workforce in Northern Nevada. Studies show that Americans score below 50% in financial literacy. Helping people improve their quality of life through sound financial practices is just one small way I can give back.
3. Volunteer in the Community
On behalf of the PPG Foundation, I was able to donate $500 through our employee GIVE Grant program to a local non-profit that I volunteer with in Nevada. Employees also have the ability to fund educational programs and field trips at public schools through PELC Grants. Each school can receive five grants per year for $1,000 each. The process is simple. Teachers can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information (please share!)
Most large corporations have foundations that encourage volunteerism, so check with your company for opportunities. If you work for a smaller business, see if you can organize an event or program with your organization. Aside from corporate giving, I also volunteer at the Nevada Discovery museum helping to educate children. Whether I'm supervising an art activity or working at a fundraiser, seeing the smiles on the faces of children makes it worth every minute of it!
- Visit Volunteermatch.org to find assignments based on skill, interest, and location.
- Check the websites of local non-profits. Usually they have a volunteer section or contact information listed on their site. Don't hesitate to send an email or call the volunteer coordinator.
- Network within your community. Most of my projects started by simply asking someone, "how can I help your organization?"
Remember there are no limits when using your education. Follow your passion and make a difference when you can!
""Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." - Francis of Assisi