This semester you've been pushing yourself past your limits, working a part-time job while putting yourself through school. Now you're starting to feel burnt out, as if the candle has completely melted and there's nothing left. With a break on the horizon almost here, you're looking forward to sleeping in, unplugging, and reconnecting with family and friends you haven't seen much of since the semester began. Before leaving, your professor challenged everyone to find a volunteer opportunity to help round out your resumes.
Your first step should naturally be to search for a website like Charity Village where volunteer roles are posted. This will allow you to see the current opportunities available in your area(s) of interest. Another possibility is to look at your city or town website to see if they post volunteer needs. A good example is Markham.ca, a city in the GTA, lists volunteer opportunities under Aquatics, Culture, City Special Events, Environment/Sustainability, Markham Public Library, and Recreation. If you love swimming, then aquatics might be an outstanding category to consider. In virtually every instance, you can apply online and submit your name for an interview.
Volunteering is more complex than picking a place and walking in when you have free time. Before you can start, there are agreements to sign, policies to read and an orientation session to attend. In many cases, organizations ask for a background check called a Vulnerable Sector Check (VSC) or Vulnerable Sector Screening (VSS) from local law enforcement. According to the RCMP, this check protects people who, because of their age, disability, or other circumstance, are more vulnerable than others. The cost of the (VSC or VSS) varies depending on whether you are a student/volunteer or if you choose to apply online or in person. Visit your local law enforcement web page to see which category you fall under and get an idea of the cost.
After receiving your vulnerable sector check, it's time to circle back about open volunteer opportunities. Are you interested in an administrative role or a physically demanding one? Do you want to help young children learn to swim or be a role model for young adults? Do you want to play games with elders with cerebral palsy or help immigrants learn English as a second language? You may be fluent in sign language and want to work with people learning to communicate through signing. You must be honest about your talents and pursue volunteer opportunities that appeal to and allow you to leverage those talents to help others. Sherry Anderson once said, "Volunteers don't get paid, not because they're worthless, but because they're priceless."
Just as your professor suggested, volunteering will look great on your resume, but it is so much more than that. Volunteer opportunities are an excellent way to help your community while also presenting a chance to learn about different roles, explore interests, and discover new possibilities. These experiences will help you determine if this career is something you should pursue or if you need more time to find the missing piece.