Engaging Students in Service Outside Office Hours

CJ Barnes, Assistant Director, NYU Service, New York University

October 17, 2016

It’s 2AM and a student needs access to the volunteer opportunities in New York City for New York University (NYU) students or upcoming opportunities that are open to students. Having been unable to attend the recent Service Fair, they realize they don’t have immediate access to this information. 

What should they do?

For the 45,730 NYU students, faculty, and staff with accounts on OrgSync this information is readily available.

OrgSync is an online platform that creates a community for departments, students, and any member-based organizations that can streamline processes and drive engagement. Many of NYU’s departments and colleges use OrgSync to connect students to opportunities happening on campus as well as other like-minded students. This engagement drove the development of the NYU Service Portal within the platform.

This portal aims to continue the engagement of students with the over 100 local community organizations that NYU partners with each year to offer students a chance to give back to the NYC community in meaningful and impactful ways. The idea came about as an extension of the NYU Service Fair, a twice-annual exhibition of partner organizations in the heart of NYU’s campus. Although many of the partner organizations were able to make the tabling fair, some were not. Additionally, some students had interest in giving back to the community but had classes that would prohibit them from attending the fair.

This led to the idea of an online system that would be available 24/7 to connect members of the NYU community to the same opportunities that our partner organizations were offering in the NYC community throughout the year. Each organization has a profile page where they are able to post messages and service opportunities that can be browsed individually by students, while also collecting RSVPs to events within the city. Additionally, they can create forms that volunteers fill out before attending one of their opportunities. This is a great way to collect paperwork or event resumes and cover letters before members become engaged. 

On the student access side, they have access to a full calendar of events posted within the portal, offering them a chance to browse various events by date, time, or type of service. Students can also see all of the different partner organizations that are connected within the portal and reach out to find more information about the organization or perhaps find a new community partner to engage with during their time in NYC.

This portal creates a new way for our community to engage with the broader NYC community and continue to be in and of the city. By working to find new, innovative ways to continue to connect our students, we can build on the established foundation of information sessions and service fairs and expand the connection that our students feel to a city that can be overwhelming.

While we are at the beginning of offering a continuous community organization presence on our campus, we hope to expand this portal to track our students' involvement in the city and utilize assessment as part of follow up to this involvement. We believe student involvement with our community partners can become much more than a once or twice a year through fairs and tabling sessions. Initial interest from our partners has been high as they find ways to utilize the connection to students to make them aware of one-time service events to ongoing application processes. While we continue to grow our database, I would be more than happy to answer any questions, comments, or concerns at [email protected]

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