group of students at the Berkeley public service center
Photo credit: Berkeley Public Service Center

As graduate students, we often encounter fellowship and internship applications that ask us to describe our leadership skills and our engagements with diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. For many graduate students, these skills are primarily developed through teaching experience. However, graduate students can also take advantage of public service opportunities to develop leadership experience and other valuable skills and, at the same time, have a positive impact on their communities. Public service encompasses a wide range of programs and resources that support and benefit community members. Whether it is mentoring local middle school students or providing your informed opinion on public policies, graduate students have a lot to offer through public service. In this article, we explore public service opportunities offered through the Berkeley Public Service Center and several other campus organizations. 

If you are interested in participating in public service projects, the Berkeley Public Service Center offers many opportunities for graduate students to connect with community organizations and incorporate community-engaged work into their teaching and scholarship. For example, the Berkeley Public Service Center partners with the American Cultures Engaged Scholarship (ACES) program to provide graduate students with spaces to explore community-engaged scholarship and collaborative projects with community partners. In tandem with this work, graduate students are invited to participate in the ACES Graduate Learning Community to engage in a workshop series connecting research with social justice efforts. In addition, graduate students can also serve as graduate assistants to co-facilitate public service center programs such as the Cal in the Capital program, which trains and prepares UC Berkeley students for summer internships in Washington, D.C. The Public Service Center also features a wide variety of social justice and community engagement opportunities. For example, the Sage Mentorship Project matches UC Berkeley students with elementary school-aged mentees through academic and extracurricular activities. Connect with the Public Service Center to stay up to date on public service opportunities. 

In addition to the Berkeley Public Service Center, graduate students can also engage in public service projects through the Graduate Assembly, UC Berkeley’s official legislative body for graduate and professional students. There are several ways to get involved with the Graduate Assembly: you can become a delegate for your academic department, serve as a representative on campus committees, or apply to be part of the Graduate Assembly leadership team. The Graduate Assembly offers many opportunities for graduate students to practice inclusiveness and engage in activism. 

When it comes to public service opportunities, the Career Center also provides a wealth of resources. Do you know that you can get timely information about career fields and topics you are interested in? Make sure to update your “Career Interests” within Handshake to sign up for CareerMail and receive messages targeted towards your career interests. For more public service resources, the Public Service Center and the Career Center recommend the following websites: VolunteerMatch, a searchable database for internships and volunteer opportunities; IdealistCareers, a leading industry resource for jobs in nonprofit organizations; and GuideStar, a database of information on more than 650,000 nonprofit organizations, searchable by keyword. 

Finally, you are always invited to make a one-on-one appointment with a Career Center counselor for graduate students, or book a GradPro individual consultation with a Professional Development Liaison to discuss your public service interests and other professional development plans. Don’t forget to also sign up for the Graduate Student Professional Development Digest for career development opportunities and resources. 

About the Author: Allyson Kohen is a doctoral student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and a Professional Development Liaison at GradPro.