If you’re thinking about applying to business school, you may wonder which extracurricular activities will look best on your application. Your work experience will, of course, be relevant, as will any awards or publications you may have. What about community service?
The short answer here is, yes, community service will aid your application. As you apply to more competitive programs, you should focus more on adding plenty of volunteer experience to your CV. The more the better!
That being said, volunteerism can be time-consuming. As a busy student, it’s easy to question whether it’s worth the commitment. If you’ve never participated in a community service program, you may not know where to start.
Well, we’ve got you covered. Below, we’ll cover how much business schools care about community service, how it can help your application, which programs you should consider, and more. Let’s get started.
Is Community Service Required for Business School?
Community service is not typically a requirement for business school, but it can make a big difference on your application. Anything demonstrating your work ethic will be an asset, but community service specifically shows your interest in leadership.
Leadership, according to Forbes, is a key characteristic business schools seek in students. “Business schools care about community leadership because it demonstrates an applicant's commitment to doing good in addition to doing well.
The Forbes contributor continues, “While certain programs place more value on community leadership than others, they all use it as a way to measure potential students.”
The article also notes community service is an excellent way to set your application apart from others and can be personally and professionally rewarding to you. Essentially, you cannot go wrong with adding community service to your CV, even if it is not a requirement.
How Community Service Can Help Your MBA Application
As mentioned above, community service can set your application apart from others. Volunteerism demonstrates leadership, teamwork, motivation, and passion. If you take the time to add community service to your application, it can show you’re willing to go the extra mile.
A few specific ways community service can help your MBA application include:
- Setting you apart from others
- Demonstrating good character and leadership skills
- Showing you have a good work-life balance
- Implying you’ll enrich the school’s community
- Enriching your personal outlook
Dedicating hours to community service also shows you care about making an impact on the world around you. The drive to make a change, even just in your community, is a great indicator you’re ready to take on the business world. That being said, the type of community service you do can also tip the scale in your favor.
Best MBA Community Service
Now that we’ve covered how community service adds to your application, let’s cover which types will be the most beneficial. Here are a few examples of community service programs that will stand out on your MBA application.
Rehabilitation and re-entry programs
Re-entry programs can be a great way to gain leadership experience and understand how difficult it can be to enter the workforce. As a future business student, understanding the process of rehabilitation and re-entry can help you gain a new perspective on the job market.
Many programs nationwide offer rehabilitation and re-entry services. If you’re interested in this type of volunteer work, check out the Volunteers Of America (VOA), the Bounce Back project, and many more.
Fundraising and distribution
Fundraising and distribution volunteer opportunities can help you to learn the inner workings of a company while getting in your volunteer hours. In this realm, you can fundraise for a small business, a larger organization, or simply offer services in consulting, promotion, or marketing.
Affordable housing programs
Many community service programs nationwide focus a large percentage of their resources on provide affordable housing. In these uncertain times, North America’s housing crisis has only gotten worse, making affordable housing scarce.
If you enjoy working with your hands, some great volunteer positions building affordable housing are available. If you are passionate about fighting the housing crisis, check out Habitat for Humanity, the National Coalition for the Homeless, and more.
Food banks/Soup kitchens
One of the most common types of community service is volunteering in a soup kitchen or a food bank. These programs are typically easy to find in your local area and can always use a helping hand. There are more than 200 soup kitchens in the U.S.
Start your own initiative
Although it may be a more difficult path, you can always create a charity initiative. If you have enough time, this could also be a great way to showcase your ability to create and run a functional organization.
If you choose this route, make sure you continue putting in real volunteer hours. It won’t be enough to simply have an idea for a good volunteer initiative, you should have logged time for your efforts and have supporting documents.
Should I Add Community Service to my CV?
You should absolutely do community service and add it to your CV when applying to business schools. Community service is an asset to your application and can help you grow personally and professionally.
It’s essential to understand why volunteerism is something schools look for when you’re applying. Business schools seek students who want to make a difference in the world around them.
So, you shouldn’t only volunteer because it will look good on a CV. Instead, try to genuinely learn and take something from the experience. It could serve you well in your business school journey and the rest of your life.
MBA Community Service FAQ
Here are our answers to the most frequently asked questions about community service in relation to an MBA application.
Why should I volunteer?
Aside from making your MBA application more competitive, volunteer work has been proven to help your mental health. Community service keeps you in regular contact with others, which can help you develop a support system. This regular social interaction has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety.
How can I stand out on an MBA application?
Many applicants will have good grades, especially for more competitive MBA programs. To stand out from others, focus on:
- Giving a great interview
- Your personal statement
- Writing unique essays
- Your Letters of Recommendation
- Your extracurriculars (leadership oriented)
Do MBA programs care about community service?
Yes, MBA programs care about your involvement in community service programs. Especially if you can demonstrate leadership skills and a passion to build a better future.
What are good extracurriculars for an MBA application?
Any extracurricular that shows dedication, drive, and personality will look good on an MBA application. Some good examples are:
- Organizing or fundraising
- Volunteering in digital marketing
- creating your own business initiative
- Tutoring, coaching or mentoring
- Long term studies such as learning an instrument
Do MBAs care about extracurriculars?
MBAs care about extracurriculars, although they are not as important as your main credentials. Your extracurriculars can help you stand out from others and give admissions a better idea of who you are.
What is the best community service for an MBA application?
Any community service that demonstrates your leadership skills. When researching community service for an MBA application, seek volunteer positions where you can manage, organize, distribute, or teach.
Community service is essential in making your application stand out and demonstrating your leadership skills. Any extracurricular activity that shows your passions will look good, but consistent volunteering takes a certain amount of drive and initiative, which says a lot about an applicant.
Business schools seek students who are passionate about change. They want their alumni to head out into the world and become tycoons. Anything you can do to show you’re passionate about the future will serve you well on your application.
Choose a community service program you are genuinely interested in and will highlight your skills. Choosing a volunteer position you enjoy will also benefit your mental health and community.
Essentially, however you choose to serve the community will be a win-win situation.