Learn How Three People Turned a Volunteer Experience into a Career

Students entering the job market have a 27 percent higher chance of being hired if they have volunteer experience.  Volunteering teaches valuable job skills, improves social networks, provides real world experience and demonstrates an individual’s ability to work in teams.  Below are a few  examples of Idahoans who turned volunteering into a career.

Elizabeth Corsentino was a Boise State University student who volunteered at Radio Boise because of her love for music. Through networking at her position, she met the Treefort festival director who hired her to be part of the original founding group for the annual music festival.

“Volunteering is the best way to develop skills and network in the field you’re passionate about,” Corsentino said.

Corsentino now organizes and manages the volunteers for Treefort and is the volunteer coordinator for Radio Boise.

Mark Davidson was a private contractor doing remodels and fence building.  When the economy took a downturn, he started looking for a job doing something else. In the meantime he signed up as an AmeriCorps member in the new Veterans Serving Veterans program.

“Volunteering is a great opportunity to serve and help others. Never overlook or underestimate the value of volunteerism. With the right attitude and mind set through volunteering, careers can be limitless” Davidson said.

Through his volunteering he  discovered a non-profit organization called Operation Homefront that did not have any representation in Idaho. He took the initiative and created a Volunteer Community Team for Operation Homefront in Idaho which became the official field office for Idaho, Montana and Utah. Davidson is now the executive director of the Mountain West Field Office for Operation Homefront.

Colleen Schowalter HeadshotColleen Schowalter was a biochemist in Oregon when an illness brought her to Idaho. She had wanted a career in biochemical oceanography, but with no ocean in Idaho, Schowalter ended up on a different path and she joined St. Luke’s Institutional Review Board for four years.  She had volunteered with teens for the past 18 years and fell in love with the work and decided to join AmeriCorps VISTA where she served at the Idaho National Guard in family programs, focusing on youth. Later, she was stationed at the Idaho Foodbank where she was also appointed as a VISTA leader.

Through her service, Scholwalter gained skills in coordinating large scale volunteer programs, events and donor relations. The Idaho Foodbank recognized her work ethic and passion and hired her as the volunteer program coordinator. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter recently appointed Schowalter as a commissioner for Serve Idaho.

Want to join the more than 35 percent of Idahoans who volunteer and get a leg up on the competition in job hunting? Visit the Serve Idaho Facebook page or ServeIdaho.gov to find volunteer opportunities.

— Nick Wright, Serve Idaho