The Iglu Guide | Blog

7 ways to make a difference while studying

Giving back to the community while studying is a great opportunity for students to make a difference not only to others, but also to themselves. It offers numerous benefits that include skill acquisition, a sense of purpose, new opportunities, increased confidence and meaningful engagement. Most importantly, it makes a positive impact on the local community, something that’s particularly valuable for international students. And it improves your emotional health with a feel-good factor that’s hard to replicate in any other way. Here’s how students can make that difference while at university.

1. Volunteering

Volunteering has many documented benefits, some very obvious and some much less so. As well as helping you give something back, it can strengthen your ties to the local community and bring along a real sense of purpose and direction. Many students also use volunteer work as an opportunity to increase their employability factor as it helps develop critical skills such as leadership, communication and teamwork. These are not only useful to have in the workplace, they’re also crucial skills for adulthood in general! Knowingly helping others also benefits your mental and emotional wellbeing. And in a more physical role, it could have an impact on your general fitness too.

What now?

Look for local opportunities where you might be able to lend a hand such as food banks or soup kitchens. Jump online and search organisations such as Go Volunteer, The Centre for Volunteering or Seek Volunteer to find something that suits your availability.

2. Charity support

Students can donate any available spare time to charities of their choice, helping to raise awareness through events, fundraisers or organised campaigns. With the power of modern technology, it’s never been easier to let others know what you’re up to on a second by second basis – so why not harness that for the better good and leverage the platform to raise funds for a special cause. You can even donate your time to helping out charities at one-off events. Charity support helps you form meaningful connections with others, and it also demonstrates empathy and social responsibility to future employers.

What now?

Charity work can be found online, or by approaching an organisation directly. Look for events that might appeal such as a local fun run and contact your charity of choice to understand how you can allocate funds.

3. Internships

It’s often difficult to imagine what theoretical knowledge looks like outside the lecture hall. Internships are a great opportunity to put your learned academic skills to work and apply acquired knowledge to real world problems. They offer new skills and valuable hands-on work experience to the student, while the wider community benefits well from the outcome. Intern programs are also a good way to understand more about your own personal strengths and any areas that need development, as well as a useful way to expand your professional network.

What now?

Talk to the careers support resources at university to identify where there might be intern programs available, and do your own industry research online so that you can shortlist appropriate businesses. Make sure your resumé is kept up to date, and have a personalised cover letter ready to go.

4. University projects

Helping others and making a difference is not purely restricted to volunteering or charity work. It’s also possible for students to use their learning as a way to challenge norms and address community needs. This type of work is incredibly fulfilling as it is based on real time scenarios and it has real world application. The added bonus is that it also fits into your academic curriculum – so no additional hours are required!

What now?

Talk to your professors about any local issues that could be incorporated into academic work, and discuss the social impacts that have the potential to benefit the community as a result.

5. Advocacy

There’s nothing quite as powerful as a motivated student body supporting a cause close to their hearts. As the generation of the future, students are well placed to use their voice and leverage their platform to raise awareness around a well-deserved cause. It’s the perfect opportunity to create noise around social issues, generate momentum and publicity while reaching an extremely wide audience. Advocating for change only takes as much time as you want to give. It could range from a simple social media post through to joining student organisations, or petitioning lawmakers for change.

What now?

If you are part of a student body already, look for organised rallies or protests to join, or any appropriate events on campus that support your beliefs. Know who is in charge of your local area and use leverage tools such as petitions to get the attention of your MP. That is how change begins.

6. Mindful behaviours

Students account for over 4m of the Australian population, which makes for quite a consumer base. If you lack the time to invest in volunteering or social advocacy, think about how you spend your dollars as that can have a major impact when factored out over a larger group. When you’re out shopping, consider the miles your food travels to get to the supermarket shelves, where products are sourced from, what type of wrapping is used and what proportion can be recycled. Look beyond any greenwashing and research the reality behind the advertised statistics.

What now?

Choose brands and businesses that align with your value system, and take the time to research those that prioritise social and environmental issues that are important to you. And remember to keep up your own sustainable study habits!

7. Mentoring

Pay it forward by mentoring younger students in your particular area of expertise. This is a great way to give back as you are passing on your lived experiences, not only in the world of academia but also the world of university. This demonstrates a commitment to improving the lives of others, and could be life changing for another individual. Consider donating some time to underprivileged students who may not ordinarily have access to tutoring resources.

What now?

Investigate any formal procedures that may be available through schools or colleges, or advertise informally for students using local shop pinboards or word of mouth.

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