Inside USD

Adventures in Service Offers Alternative Career Choices

Friday, November 14, 2008

This year when Bridget Dixon attended the annual Adventures in Service Fair at the University Center, her role was different. Instead of being the student examining post-graduation opportunities, it was Dixon, who earned a B.A. in biology in 2007, explaining to current students why they should apply for the PLACE Corps program offered at Loyola Marymount University. 

“I’m in my second year of the program right now,” said Dixon, who will complete her master’s degree in education in June through the Catholic teacher education and service program. Dixon attends classes, but she also teaches science and music to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at Our Lady of Guadalupe, a K-8 school in East Los Angeles. “At the end of the day, I’m exhausted, but I’m completely satisfied with what I’m doing.” 

PLACE Corps was one of 16 organizations at the fair giving students a chance to explore careers in non-profit and government agencies. More than 100 students attended the event on Nov. 13 in hopes of finding an internship, looking for a future job, or simply to contribute to the larger community. 

The event was co-sponsored by USD’s Community Service-Learning (CSL), Career Services, American Humanics and University Ministry programs. The focus of this year’s fair, according to CSL director Elaine Elliot, was on local organizations. Elliot, who has been involved with the program since 1995, has seen the event grow and was proud of this year’s turnout. 

Some of the organizations with local representatives were Teach for America, San Diego Museum of Man, Peace Corps, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Habit for Humanity, American Red Cross, YMCA and Amigos de Jesus. Each organization came to USD seeking volunteers and future employees. Representatives were eager to discuss the specific goals of their programs. The fair began with panelists sharing a little bit about their organization along with some personal volunteer stories. 

The current economic woes are making an impact on some students, as many seem eager to find new opportunities for work. Jasmine Villa, a CSL assistant, said the current financial crisis has students looking at more viable options like Teach for America. She said a lot of students have expressed interest in non-profit work, but this year they’re looking to possibly make a career out of it. 

Each organization had different opportunities available, from a semester-long internship to a year or more commitment, but the general opinion of students was that the fair provided good prospects for job seekers.

Senior Nicole Burns attended the fair to gather some information and weigh her options. “I am graduating in a few months and want to find a volunteer opportunity or job to fill the gap year, the year between graduation and my first year as a full-time employee.”

Ruth Soberanes, a junior, said the event went a long way in reinforcing her already strong desire to help others. 

“The fair presented some amazing opportunities to use service as a pathway in life for USD students,” Soberanes said. “It was really helpful to meet all the representatives from all of these organizations and to hear their own experiences. That personal connection helped me to envision myself in several of the programs and really helped set me at ease about my post-graduation life. Being involved in several organizations on campus — University Ministry’s Romero Center for Faith in Action, intern at the Trans-Border Institute, etc. — I’ve really developed a passion for community-oriented justice work and I hope to continue that as a career.”

Organization representatives saw the fair as a great way to advance their cause and gain some extra help while giving students a chance to give back to their community. Amy Tate, representing Junior Achievement, which is dedicated to educating K-12 students about entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy through its hands-on program, attended the event for the first time. 

“We are always looking for volunteers, and more often than not we do not have enough extra hands in the classrooms. We have worked with other schools but are excited to start our partnership with USD students.” 

For more information on Adventures in Service and for Web site links to the fair’s participating organizations, go to: www.sandiego.edu/careers/events/adventures/ 

 

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