Loyola University Maryland

Center for Community Service and Justice (CCSJ)

Post-Graduation Service Exploration Guide

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Discerning post-graduate service? An exciting array of post-graduate service programs lay before you...everything from a few months to a couple of years, in settings close to home or on the other side of the globe.

Many of these programs offer placements that will stretch your knowledge, your skills and your awareness, better preparing you for graduate school and your future career. You will have the opportunity to work in a professional environment, learning firsthand about community issues and processes for addressing them, while applying your skills in responsible and challenging capacities.

Take advantage of all that full-time service has to offer; it’s an opportunity of a lifetime. CCSJ can assist you as you consider your options. We offer literature on a range of post-graduate service programs, as well as directories that categorize programs according to various criteria.

Questions for you to consider while discerning if and how you want to carry out post-graduate service:

1. What are your motivations for volunteering?

  • Wanting to give back for all you have been given?
  • Personal challenge?
  • Hands-on experience for future career?
  • Something totally different from what you may do in the future?

2. International or domestic service?

  • Does mileage from home matter?
  • Open to expanding or developing completely new friends/support group?
  • Do you prefer an urban or a rural environment?
  • Do you desire brand new experiences in a new place or would you rather stay somewhere that is familiar?

3. Short-term or long-term? What type of commitment are you prepared to make?

  • Short-term commitment: 3-6 months
  • Long-term commitment: 1-3 years

4. What types of skills and issues do you want to be engaged in?

  • Do you want to work with people or the environment (etc.)?
  • Are you interested in a particular issue, such as advocacy, business, community organizing, health care, homeless services, legal aid, people who are materially poor, Native Americans, teaching, women’s issues, youth, etc.?
  • What skills and knowledge do you have that you would like to apply in your position?
  • What skills and knowledge would you like to develop through your position?
  • What is your future career path and how will a community-based position better prepare you for that path?

5. What type of living arrangement suits you?

  • Communal: Do you want to share the common experience with others by living with them?
  • Independent: Do you want to live independently and have the support of a community that you meet with on a weekly or monthly basis?

6. Do you prefer a Faith-based or a secular program?

  • Faith-Based: Are service and spirituality interconnected for you?
  • Secular: Do you want a non-faith-based program emphasizing service, social change, advocacy and/or civic involvement?

7. What previous volunteer experiences do you have that lead you to believe that a volunteer year would be a good experience for you?

For assistance with discernment, please contact Malia Lien (ext. 2072) for both faith based or non-faith based counseling.

Questions to Explore while choosing a placement and when contacting Program Representatives:

1. Financial

  • Is loan deferment available if I have student loans?
  • Is room and board included? Stipend?
  • Is simple lifestyle (living on a minimal amount of money) an option or required in the program?

2. Health

  • Is health insurance offered to the volunteers?
  • Does the program fund prescription medication?

3. Community/Interpersonal

  • Is there an orientation at the beginning and a re-orientation at end of program to get me acclimated to the culture?
  • Is there a support system near the placement site?
  • Are there times throughout the year when the entire group reconvenes to share experiences and information?
  • Is a mentor, spiritual director or mental health counselor accessible?
  • Is language training necessary prior to volunteering or provided for volunteers?

4. Transportation

  • Is travel possible during the service commitment? If so, what support does the program offer?
  • Can I bring my own vehicle?

5. Who covers daily travel expenses, repairs and car insurance?

  • Is use of public transportation expected?
  • Does the program pay for transportation to orientation and/or service site?  What about the trip home at the end of service commitment?

6. Education

  • Is an education award/grant available at the end of my year of service?

Web Resources