Postgraduate service fair to feature over 70 service organizations
Kelli Smith | Wednesday, September 27, 2017
The Center for Social Concerns (CSC) will host a fair to introduce students to an array of postgraduate service opportunities Wednesday from 5-8 p.m. at the Joyce Center Concourse.
The fair will feature representatives from over 70 service organizations situated across the world. According to the event website, the organizations confront topics such as poverty, immigration and refugee resettlement, environmental justice, healthy food, wellness, housing and homelessness, youth development and elder care.
“What’s wonderful is there will be organizations that need people to do all different kinds of work,” Karen Manier, postgraduate service administration lead coordinator at the CSC, said. “No matter what your background is or your interests, you can usually find something that would be of interest to you.”
Manier said the goal of the fair never differs: It aims to both educate students about postgraduate service — what it is, what it offers and how powerful it can be — and facilitate the process for students who want to do postgraduate service.
“If there’s a passion that you have around a particular social issue, [postgraduate service] allows you to not only do good work and help people but also to learn more about things so you can decide to get involved with something in a different way or level,“ Manier said.
According to the CSC’s website, though postgraduate service is “basically a full-time job in a non-profit organization,” service members typically receive a stipend and benefits in exchange for working with individuals and communities in need.
Though bringing a resume to the event and wearing business casual attire can be helpful, Manier said, the service fair is different from a regular job search in that such formalities are not necessary and any question students ask service organizations is “fair game.”
“Everyone wants the same thing, which is to make the world a better place,” Manier said. “These are folks who prefer to have lengthier conversations with the people they’re talking to because it allows them to get to know you better.”
About 7 percent of the class of 2016 participated in postgraduate service, totaling to about 150 students, Manier said. The largest portion of those students came from the College of Arts and Letters, which saw 17 percent of its graduates commit to service.
“I hope people take advantage of this opportunity, because Notre Dame students are extremely well-liked by service organizations because they’re so well-prepared,” Manier said. “[Students] come in with so much service experience already, tend to do service while here and are smart, energetic and good leaders. Our students are ideal candidates, so these service organizations really want to meet them.”
Manier said she would recommend all students, regardless of grade level, to attend the free event.
“Even if [undergraduates] just start with conversations now and get a sense of the landscape, they’ll be in a much better position going into their senior year when they’re trying to make those decisions,” Manier said. “It’ll give them a chance to see what’s out there.”
As an alumnus of Notre Dame and now the director and founder of the Ignatiun Service Corps, a service organization that will be at the fair, Tom King said he has worked with many students who found their gifts and life-long passions through service.
“You can have great, experienced people who have done all kinds of justice work for four years, and they’re a perfect match,” King said. “But then you can have someone that was not engaged [in service] at all, and they can be a perfect match as well. I think that anybody could do it. Just have an open heart.”
King said he considers college graduates to be in a privileged class that is required to help “those on the margins.”
“The programs all want the student to find the program that’s best for him or her,” King said. “That’s the beautiful thing about a fair like that. The programs want you to find the right match, so they may even lead you to another program. I never feel a spirit of competition among the programs.”
Junior spanish and music major Katie Ward, who helped run the service fair last year, said she felt uplifted seeing the positive impact the service organizations have in different communities and the roles that were available to students through them.
“I would highly recommend attending the postgraduate service fair, even if you have not considered doing postgraduate service before,” Ward said. “The postgraduate service fair can help you discern whether you feel called to do postgraduate service and also help you see more specifically what organizations might interest you. It’s a laid-back atmosphere, and everyone just really wants to get to know you and build relationships.”