8 Reasons to Volunteer in Canada

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “volunteering”?
Good will? Altruism? Help with no expectation of compensation?

Volunteering can be all those things and more. In Canadian society, it’s a common way to expand your life experience while helping others.

Summer is usually the best season to start volunteering, as there are many opportunities out there, from small marketing campaigns to monster-sized events such as Pride and TIFF.

In this article, we have lined up some important benefits you can expect from volunteer work. Check out these 8 main reasons why volunteering is cool and exciting.

1. Refresh Your Life

Happy Volunteer

Volunteering is a brilliant way to discover new interests and hobbies, visit different parts of the city and travel. Getting involved with something you have never experienced or something that seems a bit challenging to you may open your eyes about certain things, give you a totally different perspective on the ordinary, and refresh your experience of life.

2. Connect to Others

Australian volunteer Kylie Hinde worked with the Centre for disability in Development in Bangladesh, 2011. Photo: Kylie Hinde / AusAID

Volunteering can be a great networking tool. Most volunteer work requires you to get involved in the community or work with others. It can be an excellent opportunity to meet new people, boost your social skills, and expand your networking circle, especially when you are new to Canada.

3. Gain Professional Experience in Canada

Sailor volunteers her time while in Malaysia.

Just because volunteer work is unpaid does not mean that the job you’ll be doing is very basic or unprofessional. Some of the opportunities even require training sessions where you get an opportunity to learn by practicing. Whether or not you already have professional experience, volunteering can be a good way to “get your foot in the door,” to enhance your skills in a different environment or apply them an actual workplace.

4. Broaden Your Career Horizons

Australian volunteer David Kachor on assignment with Cricket Fiji, 2010. Photo: David Kachoe / AusAID

Volunteering is always a great chance to explore a field of interest or connect with people working there, and the experience always looks good on your resume. Moreover, you can always ask the company you volunteered with to provide you with a good reference. Some research has shown that employers prefer to hire personnel with volunteer experience.

5. Improve Your English

College of DuPage Hosts Express Registration Event Fall 2014

Pursuing volunteer activity to help you improve your English is a smart, proactive idea. Try to choose a volunteering opportunity based on the skills you want to develop. If you want to improve your writing skills, try to volunteer for a college newspaper. If speaking English is more of a priority at the moment, break out of your comfort zone and try to find volunteer work where you are expected to communicate with people on a regular basis.

6. Just Feel Good and Have Fun

Australian volunteer Jacqueline Birch in Vanuatu 2007. Photo: AusAID

In principal, volunteering is donation of your time, energy and skills to others in need. Helping others, making difference in peoples’ lives and being able to feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment without profiting monetarily can actually make you happy. Moreover, volunteering is a useful psychological enhancer, as it can help alleviate boredom and depression.

7. Boost Your Health

Secretary of Defense joins hundreds of volunteers to build a playground in one day as part of 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance

There is some interesting research that shows that people who often do volunteer tend to live longer than those who don’t. Another study shows that many people have reduced their stress levels through volunteer experience. Volunteering positively affects not only our mental health, but also our physical health!

8. Develop Time Management Skills

Time Management

Volunteering is not usually a full-time activity. Balancing school, work, home and volunteering at the same time can be challenging but it is a great way to develop time management skills.

Important Note!

Some volunteer positions may be considered employment by the CIC and require a working visa. For instance, a volunteer job that is normally executed by paid employees (e.g. customer service) is considered employment. Any activity which could be considered ‘competitive’ in the Canadian labour market also needs the volunteer to have a legitimate working permit even if the job is unpaid.

Detailed information available on : http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/study/institutions/work-volunteer.asp

Gabriela Jandova and Alena Khabibullina

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