November 18, 2018
The Student Engagement Office at Conestoga College, Kitchener, Ont., Nov. 5, 2018. Photo by Elnaz Akbari, Spoke News

When it comes to Student Success Week, the last thing on many students’ minds would be working for free on their week off. However, a lot of us may not see the obvious benefits that volunteering has, not only for the community for the volunteer as well.

With many of us nearing the ends of our programs in the spring, we’ll be looking for ways to set ourselves apart from the rest when joining the workforce.

Sure, you can finish top of your class and have some experience interning in your field. But what does volunteering say about you that will make stand out from the crowd?

Volunteering shows potential employers that you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty and get down to the nitty-gritty of whatever kind of work it may be. It not only is a selfless act for the community in most cases, but it also provides the volunteer with an experience that may carry them into future endeavours in the same field.

Spending a few hours a week helping out at your local homeless shelter or coaching a kids’ basketball team can really show employers the type of person you are and what you are willing to do for another.

But simply attending a volunteering opportunity isn’t going to cut it. One has to fully immerse themselves in the act and try to learn as much from it as possible.

Yes, you will learn the technical skills at school that you need to be effective in your desired field. But what about soft skills such as personability or being able to take direction? Volunteering provides you with a real-world scenario where you are able to put yourself into a situation and figure it out, often with a margin of error.

Volunteering can effectively act as a dry run for when you actually join the workforce and there is less room for mistakes.

Although many students don’t take the opportunity to get out there and get involved in their community and volunteer, you may be surprised by how many of your peers do take the time out of their busy schedules to get out there.

“Volunteering and getting a co-op really helped me in my program,” said Micheal Ly, a Conestoga College supply chain management graduate. “Even before I was done my program in the summer, I was already getting job offers from places I had volunteered or done co-op placement at,” he added.

There are many resources available to students on campus who are looking to volunteer part-time or over the summer. They include co-curricular record opportunities the twice-yearly Get Involved Fair that is held at the beginning of every semester.

“It can be hard to juggle being in school full time and finding time to volunteer, but in the long run it’s really worth it,” said Ly.

 

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