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Alumni choose paths in service

Catherine Owers | Friday, November 9, 2012

For many college seniors, there seem to be only two options for life after graduation: getting a job or continuing education. However there exists a third option, postgraduate service, especially popular for University of Notre Dame students.

2011 alumna Catherine Scallen is currently a recruitment associate for Catholic Volunteer Network. Catholic Volunteer Network is an organization of service programs that “fosters and promotes full-time national and international service opportunities for people of all backgrounds, ages and skills,” according to the organization’s website.

“Catholic Volunteer Network supports and enhances the work of its membership by providing training and resources, networking opportunities, and national advocacy,” it states in the organization’s mission statement.”The Recruitment Associate position is a six-month program for two students who have just finished postgraduate service,” Scallen said.

In this position, Scallen and the other associate travel to different schools around the country and talk about their personal volunteering experiences.

“We’re essentially road-warriors,” she said.

For a year after graduation, Scallen worked with Good Shepherd Volunteers as a marketing assistant at HandCrafting Justice, an organization dedicated to economic justice and fair trade products. At the end of her year of service, Scallen began looking for “real” job options, she said.

“The service year is a very intense immersion experience, but I didn’t feel that I was done processing my experience and no jobs stood out to me,” Scallen said.

Scallen said she likes the mission-oriented nature of the job at the Catholic Volunteer Network, as well as getting to work with service program directors and coordinators.

“I love getting to spend more time with these people, who are so unique”, she said.  

Scallen, who studied Spanish and American Studies, says her involvement in many of the Center for Social Concerns programs as an undergraduate encouraged her to pursue postgraduate service opportunities.

“I did a Summer Service Learning Program between my freshman and sophomore years, and it got me hooked,” she said. “I did an Urban Plunge, and between my junior and senior years I interned at a nonprofit in Minnesota.”

To students considering postgraduate service, Scallen said she highly recommends getting involved as an undergraduate, utilizing the Notre Dame alumni network and doing research.

Contact Catherine Owers at cowers@nd.edu