Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Volunteering: A Huge Investment in Your Future

Volunteer experience is an investment in your professional development and can be the added value that you bring to a potential job or career opportunity. One of the most valuable things I have learned during my four years at Brock University is the extreme importance of getting involved and volunteering my time. Between attending lectures, participating in seminars, hitting the books, and writing assignments, we are constantly learning as university students. Sometimes this means the value of getting involved can be overlooked amidst the chaos of juggling academic and personal responsibilities. Here are five reasons why you should consider volunteering your time with a club, organization, or charity (if you haven’t already).
  1.  Gain Employable Skills. Volunteering is a great way to gain the (transferable) skills employers are looking for. Even though you’re not getting paid for the experience doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable than the skills you gain from a paid position. Your experiences as a volunteer can be translated onto your resume to highlight qualifications in areas such as communication, time management, teamwork, organization, leadership, etc. 
  2. Giving Back to Others. Charities, organizations, institutions, and (especially) clubs rely on volunteers to help make projects and certain initiatives come together successfully. In many cases, the need for volunteers stems from strained resources or budgetary limitations. Getting involved in on- or off-campus opportunities helps create a better environment for others, and can significantly improve the health of communities. 
  3. Connections, Connections, Connections! Getting involved with certain projects, events, and initiatives as a volunteer can open a ton of doors in your personal and professional network. In many ways, volunteering is a great opportunity to network informally with like-minded individuals from different backgrounds. If you leave a good impression, who knows what opportunities might unexpectedly pop up in the future? It could help you tap into the dreaded hidden job market!
  4. Test Career Options. Volunteering is a great opportunity to test out different career options, whether you have an idea about what you want to do or not. Getting involved may help you realize what you’re truly passionate about, what your strengths and weakness are, what kind of organizations you’d like to work for, etc.
  5. Admissions for Further Education.  If you’re thinking about continuing on to Further Education, volunteering becomes incredibly important for admissions and grant applications. While that GPA is important, having relevant volunteer experience can certainly set you apart from other applicants.
Where can you search for volunteer opportunities? A fantastic place to start would be VolunteerFEST, which is happening Thursday, September 17 from 10AM -2PM in the Guernsey Market. There will be organizations from all over Niagara for you to engage with and learn about different volunteer opportunities. Sign up with an organization you’re passionate about and volunteer with them throughout the year!

I encourage you to visit us at the Career Resource Centre for more information about where you can find different volunteer opportunities. We have plenty of resources inside the Centre, as well as online at careerzone.brocku.ca for your benefit. We're open from 9-4:30pm every Monday to Friday.

Kaitlyn Daw, English Language and Literature Major
Senior Career Assistant


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