Community engagement


*WordCloud exercise portraying what "community" means to SDSU students; 2020.

Community Engagement is a form of experiential learning. Experiential learning integrates academic work, giving back to the community, and career planning. Engaging students in hands-on experience can provide opportunities to make classroom learning real and relevant by applying classroom knowledge in a real world setting, all while encouraging students to critically reflect on these experiences and create meaning.

Experiential learning opportunities that occur through the classroom - such as service learning, internships, and other forms of community-engaged learning - are critical for students’ personal growth and career success. Students develop hands-on experiences within and beyond the classroom that leads them to follow their passions.  

When students engage in their community, they can -

  • Learn about societal issues more in-depth and see multiple perspectives of a problem;
  • Gain a clearer perspective of the career options they are are considering;
  • Develop necessary soft skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, professionalism/work ethic, teamwork/collaboration, time management, oral/written communications, leadership, and global/intercultural fluency, setting them apart as a competitive employee and an engaged citizen;
  • Create a whole new world of qualified and valuable connections;
  • Gain knowledge of local resources available to solve community needs.

Please visit the California State University Center for Community Engagement to learn more about systemwide community engagement initiatives.

Students from all academic backgrounds can share their talents and make a difference - Linking College Degrees to Nonprofit Careers

How might students go about developing a career pathway while engaging in their community?

Plant in hand image

Civic engagement encompasses actions where individuals participate in political and non-political activities of personal and public concern that are both individually life-enriching and socially beneficial to the community (Association of American Colleges and Universities).

To learn about fellowship opportunities, log into Handshake, navigate to "Jobs" and click on "Filter --> More --> Fellowship" 

 community engagement

Community engagement is the collaboration between institutions of Higher Education and hteir larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnerships and reciprocity (verbatim taken from Carnegie Classification).

community service

Community service, or service, is unpaid, hands-on work provided by an individual or group that contributes to the quality of life within a community in need while fostering relationships.


Did you know? Students can report community service hours with the department of Student Life & Leadership, under the "Community Service" tab.


Philanthropy/philanthropic service is the action of promoting the welfare of others by raising awareness, funds, and/or the donation of time, skills, or expertise to support non-profit, humanitarian or charitable organizations.


service learning

Service learning entails active student participation in intentional and collaborative service experiences that help promote long-term community development and civic engagement. Service Learning projects significantly relate to course content as well as enrich student education through the acquisition of professional skills in a practical (or applied) setting while also satisfying the needs of partner institutions.

Through guided reflection, students enhance their sense of civic responsibility, self-awareness, and commitment to the community.


Volunteerism is unpaid, hands-on work provided by an individual or group. 

Volunteer opportunities are available via Handshake by navigating to Jobs --> Filters --> More ---> Volunteer --> and press "See Jobs."

Volunteering during COVID-19

Staying at home is still the top method to combat COVID-19. Other ways to safely help the community during this difficult time are located through California Volunteers and by following the California Department of Public Health's safety guidelines while volunteering.

Experiential Learning - including Internships and Service-Learning - in the Virtual Context
Scheduled courses involving an experiential learning component (for example, service learning or community engagement) shall observe all applicable CDC standards, including social distancing and use of PPE. Additionally, faculty who oversee student placement at internship sites and service-learning sites are responsible for verifying that the sites adhere to the CDC health-protection standards. Instructors shall complete and provide to their department chair a COVID-19 Site Assessment Form; departments shall maintain these documents on file for three (3) years.  Students must complete the CSU EO1051 Release of Liability form.  Please contact your Associate Dean for additional assistance.

SDSU is a proud member of Campus Compact and holds a Carnegie Classification



Employer Partners 




Learn more about our nonprofit organization partners through Handshake

Request a Presentation

Request a presentation by Career Services staff about our services, or arrange for employer representatives to speak to your class or student organization. Interested in a specific topic? Contact us at [email protected] to collaborate on new workshops or request a customized training for your class or student organization.

"Community Service" Virtual Appointment

Students can make a 30-minute virtual appointment to learn how to leverage their service experience and pursue social impact in their career development journey. Log into Handshake, navigate to "Schedule a New Appointment" and select the "Community Service" category.

Log Into Handshake