Kathleen O'Keefe
Kathleen O'Keefe, Associate Director of the Career Center. (Photo by Mount Saint Mary College)

by Opeyemi Ifafore

Good karma is not the only thing you can build by volunteering.

You can also build a great resume. You’ve got the job experience and the classroom experience, but how does that make you stand out from other applicants with the same experience?

Kathleen O’Keefe, associate director of Mount Saint Mary College Career Center, said one of the most overlooked portions of a resume is the community service and the extra-curricular activities. Students focus more on the job experience and the academic achievements and disregard the volunteering aspect, but there are so many benefits to improving this part of your resume.

Volunteering has become an integral part of a very competitive job market because it shows a different side of you. O’Keefe said it’s not just about volunteering for something that pertains to your field, but it shows an individual’s genuine interest. Sometimes an employer wouldn’t even consider a candidate for the job if they don’t have volunteering experience. Volunteering is a “great outlet to support a cause that you believe in.”  Not only does it make you feel good, but “you receive an awful lot by giving,” O’Keefe said.

Although the Career Center primarily provides job and internship opportunities, they take part in volunteering opportunities as well. For business and accounting majors, the Career Center works with them to form what is called Cash Coalition. O’Keefe said students who major in business and accounting volunteer their time to do the income taxes for low income families and elderlies in the local community. For other volunteer opportunities, the Career Center refers students to Campus Ministry.

Located in Hudson Hall, Campus Ministry promotes service learning. They have connections with local organizations, which help those looking for a location or an activity to participate in. Their newest initiative is MSMC Serves.

MSMC Serves, coordinated by Fr. Francis and Alexander J. LaPoint, is a semester-long service learning program that takes place in three stages. The first stage is known as Service Sunday. Students go to Newburgh Ministry and are introduced to the many ways they can help. The second stage is service and placement in which students fulfill the weekly commitment with their placement groups. The final stage is reflection, in which students attend a bi-weekly reflection seminar and also maintain a written journal of reflection on their experiences. At the end of the semester, students partake in a one-on-one evaluation and final reflections. It’s more than just volunteering, but educating and reflecting on what you do as well.

At the first reflection seminar of the semester, Fr. Francis said, “To be aware of something is one thing, but to act upon it is another.” That awareness and action are what seniors Colleen Jones, Stephanie Weaver, and Ronald Lawyer and freshmen Maggie Jones and Diana Martinez know all about. As part of MSMC Serves, they attend the Newburgh Ministry on their own time and serve in more ways than one.

Jones is currently working on building a strong audience for the ministry’s Twitter page. Martinez tests the items people donate to make sure they work and are safe for those who will eventually use them. Lawyer works the front desk and hands out items to those in need. Each of these individuals found out that there are more ways than one to contribute. The same goes for you; there are many opportunities for you to take action.

For more information, visit the Career Center located in Aquinas Hall 151 and Campus Ministry located in Hudson Hall.