Integrating Service in the Post-Grad World

By Jessica Iocca

I have been engaged in service in the Boston community since the start of my Northeastern career, first through Strong Women Strong Girls during my first semester on campus and later through the Service-Learning program. These two programs in particular have been cornerstones of my time at Northeastern and given me just about everything – my best friends, learning opportunities, a new home in Boston and greater confidence  in myself, all while providing neighborhoods throughout Boston valuable resources. Community involvement and service are deeply personal to me, especially considering my family benefitted from the help of many community organizations during my childhood. Now, I am in my fifth and final year at Northeastern, about to embark on the real world. I am not yet sure where I will end up come May 2016, but I do know that corporate social responsibility should be a strong part of my future employer’s culture.

SWSG Field Trip
Jess working with one of her girls at a Strong Women, Strong Girls field trip.

Just as service-learning has a multitude of benefits for both community partners and students, community engagement and giving is an asset to nonprofit organizations and workplaces alike. Many large companies donate thousands, if not millions, of dollars to nonprofit organizations each year. In fact, the Boston Business Journal publishes an annual list of the Top Corporate Philanthropists in Massachusetts. Development is often a big undertaking for nonprofit organizations, so monetary donations are a definite plus of corporate giving programs for the organizations companies choose to support.

Other companies go beyond monetary donations and support their employees’ direct involvement in nonprofit organizations, such as Genzyme’s G.I.V.E. program.  Models like this have what I consider a pipeline of benefits for nonprofit organizations. Volunteerism can provide resources organizations might not have otherwise. Positive volunteer experiences can then lead to sustained engagement in the organization, which hopefully motivates supporters to encourage their networks to become in involved in an organization. The 2015 Millennial Impact Report found that 46% of Millennial employees are likely to donate to cause if their co-workers ask them to, versus 27% who say they would donate if a supervisor asked them. The more supporters, the more potential donorship, the more resources an organization has to carry out its mission.

Culture is one of the most important factors of a successful organization. Strong corporate social responsibility programs that are fully integrated into a company’s culture can offer a number of benefits to employees. Companies want to attract and retain talent that is diverse and high-performing. Corporate social responsibility programs are said to boost productivity, ethical behavior, teamwork, overall morale and give employees a sense of pride in their work. I know that when I graduate, I want a job that makes me feel like I am contributing to a greater purpose. Service-learning has been a part of my life for years and that will not change when I lose my undergraduate status.

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