Through volunteering, you help others, take on responsibilities and work with others towards a common goal. You also make varied practical experiences. Therefore, for many employers, volunteering is a positive signal regarding your personal and social competencies.

Volunteer experience is:

  • being an active member of a social, political, cultural or environmental/climate group, club or community organisation
  • being a volunteer trainer or volunteer referee in a sports club;
  • being a volunteer fire fighter;
  • being active as an organiser in a church community;
  • being active as a student representative,
  • being active at a school newspaper;
  • being a mentor or tutor in a buddy programme.

How to list volunteering experience in your CV

List your volunteer work in a separate category, i.e. „Volunteer Experience“ or „Volunteer work“, in counter-chronological order.

List the concrete tasks and responsibilities you took on in your volunteer work.

List relevant trainings and certificates that you completed as part of your volunter work.

You can also list longer-term voluntary service programmes and national civil service programmes. List the voluntary service programme, start and finish, your placement, main tasks and responsibilities.

For student representative responsibilities, you can add an additional category „Student Council/Student Parliament“.

Employers know the difference between being a passive or an active member of a civil society organisation. Be prepared to clarify your role.

Volunteering as an international student

Volunteering as an international student

Through volunteering, you can practise your German language skills and expand your social network in Germany. In volunteer activities, you work together with others towards a common goal –and you usually share common interests with your fellow volunteers, who can open doors for you to social and professional structures in Germany.

If you were active volunteering for social causes in your home country – take up volunteering again! Volunteering has positive effects on your well-being and can help you feel at home in your new place of residence.

At the University Kassel, there are over 30 student initiatives and non-profit student groups which are always looking for new volunteers, as well as many non-Campus volunteering opportunities in the city of Kassel and the region.

Developing soft skills through volunteering

The concept of soft skills covers a number of key competencies that are essential for a successful career such as communication skills, ability to work in a team, ability for creative problem solving, leadership skills etc.
You cannot learn soft skills on a purely theoretical basis. They are developed during the process of individual personality development and through personal experiences.
Therefore it can be difficult to think of specific situations in which you applied soft skills. Prior to a job interview, take the time to consider situations in which you applied relevant soft skills such as teamwork skills or communication skills.

Examples of showing your soft skills through your volunteering experience

Describe a situation in which you worked together with other people to reach a common goal. This can be a group project in school or university, a school newspaper which you edited, or a climate strike which you helped organise.

Describe a difficult situation in your teamwork - how did you solve this? What would you do differently now, what did you learn for future team projects?

Describe a situation in which you had to gain support for a cause or speak in front of a large group of people. Did you for example collect donations for a non-profit cause? Did you moderate meetings of a student initiative or a club?

How did you communicate and what did you learn?

Describe a situation in which you organised an event or completed a project. Were you an active member of your school community and organised school events? Are you a member of a student club or initiative and were part of organising campaigns, meetings or protests?

What were your tasks and what did you learn?

Describe a situation in which you were a group-leader or active in a representative position. Were you a camp counsellour or a trainer in a sports club? Were you a member of your school council or are you active in student councils or student parliament?

Taking on such roles shows employers your ability to make decisions and take on responsibilities.

Service Learning at the Uni Kassel

"Service Learning" combines "Community Service" and "Learning". In Service Learning-seminars, academic knowledge is directly being put into practice: Within the seminar framework, students complete volunteer projects for non-profit partner organisations and gain study credits. Volunteering is integrated into the course of studies.
At the University Kassel, Service Learning in university courses is actively promoted, and many university teachers from different departments offer seminars with Service Learning – you can find these in the course catalogue under the category “Seminare mit Service Learning / Lernen durch Engagement”.
In the key competencies-oriented Service Learning seminars at the University Kassel, you can also work on your own volunteer project ideas and gain credits for additive key competencies.