Perhaps you have given some thought to the idea of volunteering as a way “in” to your favourite business, but have you considered it a way to expand your network, meet other like-minded people and boost your resume?
As many of you may know, summer is often a slow period for hiring, but Toronto is brimming with spring and summer events that can connect you to hundreds of other people who are interested in the same causes and activities as you. Also, if you perform well, you may just be considered the next time people are hiring for paid positions.
There are a variety of events that occur throughout the city and they cover multi-cultural festivals, food and drink, cinema and various charities to name a few.
Is a certain medical condition meaningful to you? Why not consider contacting a local organization and asking to be put on their volunteer list? You can find organizations of interest by calling 211 in Toronto, or checking out Toronto 211 online.
Volunteering is also a great way to be exposed to different type of jobs that you may not have previously considered. And who knows, you may find that you enjoy doing something that you never thought you’d be interested in before.
The same rule applies to the various places or organizations that you can volunteer for. Have you always wanted to know what the Caribbean culture is like? Why not volunteer for the Toronto Caribbean Carnival? Or perhaps you love Italian food? Consider Taste of Little Italy.
Here are some handy do’s and don’ts for volunteering:
Volunteer for something you think you might enjoy: If you’re going to give your time to a cause, try thinking of something that will not only look good on your resume, but perhaps something that you are passionate about. If you’re happy, it will show!
Don’t be late: If you show up late for your shift, potential employers will remember this and it may affect your recommendation or chances to be considered in the future.
Dress appropriately for the event: If it’s casual and you’re going to be on your feet all day, wear comfortable shoes and clothing. You’ll often be given a Volunteer t-shirt to wear so that you can be easily recognized by others.
Be respectful of everyone: You never know who you’re meeting—that burly gentleman who wants to sit at the front could be the hiring manager at your next place of work. Or perhaps the grumpy lady at reception is also the receptionist at your new potential place of work.
Be willing to do something you hate: You may be asked to help with something like clean-up or perhaps inflating balloons. Remember that no one likes to do these odd jobs, but they still have to be done. Your willingness to participate in the less glamourous positions will be noted. Of course, never do something that you think may be harmful to your health or that you really cannot do (so, if you have a bad back, don’t offer to carry heavy weights).
Don’t wait until the last minute to volunteer for events, the most coveted spots are typically grabbed up quickly. Don’t let that discourage you though, there are so many positions you can apply for—just keep in mind you may not get your first choice.
Perhaps the most important advice I can offer however, is that no matter which organization you choose, have fun! You’re bound to learn something new, you’ll meet new people, possibly make new friends and you’ll definitely take something positive out of your experience.
Now here are some volunteer resources and websites that I recommend you take a look at when considering your volunteer opportunities.
[Note from the Editor]: Here’s a video about volunteering in the Toronto Jewish community, featuring one of JVS Toronto’s Board members: