Perhaps you have given some thought to the idea that volunteering is a good way to ‘get a foot in the door’ of your favourite business, but have you considered it a way to expand your network, meet other like-minded people and boost your resume?
Right now, as summer events ramp up, cities like Toronto are brimming with seasonal 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 covering cultural festivals, food and drink events, and various charity fundraisers, just to name a few.
Do you have a passion for a specific cause, or a personal connection to a particular health issue? 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; you might even find that you enjoy doing something that you never thought you’d be interested in before.
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 is also something that you are passionate about. If you’re happy and fulfilled, it can have a profound impact on how well you do and the references you can gather.
Be punctual: Take your volunteer work as seriously as you would a job. 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: If it’s casual and you’re going to be on your feet all day, wear comfortable shoes and clothing. If it is more formal, dress the part.
Be respectful of everyone: You never know who you’re going to meet — treat everyone as your next potential employer or colleague.
Be willing to do something you don’t enjoy: You may be asked to help with something like clean-up, or perhaps something seemingly unimportant such as 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 glamorous positions will be noted. Of course, never do something that you think may be harmful to your health or that you really cannot do.
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 websites that offer links to volunteer opportunities:
Volunteer With the City — Opportunities to volunteer in City of Toronto events and programs
Volunteer Toronto — This site offers opportunities to apply to volunteer for a wide range of activities
Spark Ontario — Discover volunteering opportunities and connect with non-profit organizations in Ontario
CharityVillage — Canadian nonprofit sector’s largest and most popular online resource