Get Volunteering and Watch
Career Opportunities Open Up

Get volunteering to develop career and life experience. Nowadays it is mandatory to have a certain amount of volunteer hours to graduate high school. But how many of us do this out of our own free will? Learn why giving back to your community will also benefit you.

Just around the time I finished university I decided to get volunteering for an organization in my community that helps mentally and/or physically challenged adults find job placements. I discovered this organization because of my part-time employment at the time had taken on a recipient in the program. I decided to do this to gain more work experience and since I felt I was fortunate enough to have many opportunities, I realized that giving back to my community was important to me. Unfortunately once I started my career I could no longer help out within this particular organization since they were only open during business hours.

What I quickly learned was that when you become a volunteer you end up learning more about yourself and the experiences train you to better deal with life’s challenges. As a result, shortly after my first opportunity ended, I quickly got involved with Big Brothers and Big Sisters . It has now been over three years.

There are five main reasons why I think everyone should get volunteering in his or hers community:

1. When you are giving back you get to meet new people. This is great if you are looking to make new friends with people outside your peer group. Volunteers may be all different ages and may come from all different backgrounds. Plus if you are interested in networking for jobs you will never know who you will meet or who someone else might know.

2. When you become a volunteer you will gain work-like experience and references. This is especially important if you have just left school and have limited experience from your part-time job. Even if this is not the case, you will still gain additional variety to your resume.

3. When you get volunteering it may introduce you to new experiences and offer you several perks. To illustrate, Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization arranges activities for the "Bigs" to take the "Littles" to. I have taken a child to a theme park or special events that have not cost me anything. So not only are you giving back, you get to experience something you might have not done otherwise. The only trade off is to spend time with someone who really appreciates you.

4. When you are donating your time to others it helps put your life in perspective. What originally motivated me to start giving back to others was during that time my main interests were myself and self-fulfilment. I knew that there had to be more in my life than just partying and spending my money on material objects. Focusing solely on these created an unfulfilling life. If you are constantly feeling down and sorry for yourself, become a volunteer and spend time with someone that is not as fortunate as you and that will change your perspective on what is important in life. You will quickly realize how grateful you should be.

5. Lastly, becoming a volunteer helped me learn more about myself. Working with children has helped me decide how much work is required to have a child. I also have volunteer experience in event planning with other organizations. Making “cold calls” and having to talk to complete strangers made me step out of my comfort zone and has in turn helped to build up my confidence.

Click here to get volunteering in Canada through this resource.

If you are still not convinced yet or think you are too busy to find the time to become a volunteer, think about this:

- Many places of employment have opportunities that only require giving up a lunch once in a while. Such as in Toronto and the GTA many corporations have The Unity Way campaign in October.

- You can turn a hobby or interest into a volunteer opportunity. For instance, if you enjoy playing baseball give up some of your time and get volunteering to coach children to develop their baseball skills.

- Not all opportunities require you to give up a set amount of time. Some may be seasonal (i.e. The United Way campaign previously mentioned) while others might be on a sign up basis (such as the First Mentors group in Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Halton).

Finally, if you are still not convinced about giving back to your community or do not like the idea of “doing work” without “getting paid”; ask yourself if you believe in karma? I’m a strong believer in karma. If you give; you will receive. Moreover, if you are looking to get ahead in life and have opportunities present themselves, start by giving back first. Great things happen to people who do good.

Click here for more valuable career tips.