A few years ago, we had a client who (disguised example) started to volunteer at a local hospital, when a family member unfortunately fell ill. He wanted to make his difference, so he started a unique fundraising initiative, which, to his surprise, took off. Others followed his example and the funds started to roll in. His experience culminated with the hospital’s fundraising board asking him to become a board member and he proudly obliged.
Why are we sharing this story? We offer it because of its truncated timeline. The individual started his program in June and was asked to join the board in August — two months total, right in the lead-up to his MBA applications. The individual was worried that the admissions committee would think his efforts were insincere and were undertaken just to impress. However, his efforts were so sincere and results so powerful (and even more impressive when you know the actual details!) that the achievements were indisputable and he found his way into several top schools.
Our point is that if you are considering taking on community service now, you should not worry that the admissions committees will see your actions as transparent and self-serving, as long as you are sincere in your efforts. Of course, if you are indeed being transparent and self-serving, you will be viewed as such, but if you devote yourself to an activity and perform, you should impress.