BY PETER SWART
Graduates from Conestoga College going into the workplace are already known by employers to have great practical and technical experience in their field, but that doesn’t mean there’s no competition.
So current students should be thinking of ways they can stand out from the rest. The best option is volunteering.
According to Kendra Foord, Student Engagement co-ordinator, there’s a saying that’s known by employers and should be followed by graduates.
“People get hired for their technical skills but their ability to advance is determined by their soft skills,” she said, “or in harsher terms they get hired for their technical skills and fired for their soft skills.”
Technical skills are learned through going to school and practising the skills students learn there but soft skills are learned through experiences not directly related to their field. They are things like leadership skills, communication and emotional skills.
On top of gathering soft skills it is also important for future graduates to learn how to express what they learned from volunteer opportunities.
“The student’s co-curricular record has more value if they have the ability to explain what they’ve learned or how they’ve developed from an opportunity,” Foord said.
The co-curricular portal is a great way to search for volunteer opportunities on and off campus but if you are unable to find something that interests you there are plenty of other options. One option is the Volunteer Action Centre of Kitchener Waterloo and Area which lists volunteer positions in the area.
“We house volunteer positions on our website for about 150 community agencies,” said Lily Viggiano, program co-ordinator at the Volunteer Action Centre.
Their website, www.volunteerkw.ca, is a resource for anyone, not just students, looking to volunteer in the community.
“It basically works like a job search website, so you can search position type or region and it will come up with a list of opportunities that match the criteria,” she said.
The website gives students a platform to find opportunities to set them apart from their future competition.
“It’s especially important for students who may be looking to gain new skills,” said Viggiano, “and it’s also a great way to network and showcase your passion.”
Anyone who has issues navigating the website can contact Viggiano at firstname.lastname@example.org and set up a one-on-one meeting in person, over the phone or through email.
Any student looking to volunteer and stand out to employers should take advantage of the resources available to them such as Conestoga’s co-curricular portal as it is a free tool that can be make a difference in whether you get or keep a future job.