Volunteering has been a major part of my life to the point where I found myself having only volunteer experience at the end of my 3rd year. You may think that it is unfortunate I have not had a chance to get work experience or start earning some money (until recently), but I would like to share with you my experiences in volunteering, the key lessons I have picked up and how it gave me a lot of valuable work experience. I hope that you will take some time to consider taking on volunteer work/continue your volunteering commitments!
1. Volunteering Fosters Human Connection
When I was 12 years old, my mom asked me if I would like to join her in volunteering at the Heart & Stroke Foundation during my summer vacation. This was my first volunteer role outside of my parish community. Our task was to prepare letters to be sent in the mail, and I enjoyed spending my time helping out and looked forward to our next shift together. Over time, we were given different projects, such as preparing fundraising items to be sent out to schools across BC. There were also times when my mom could not join me and I took on other roles such as an office receptionist. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, volunteering during my days off school came to a halt. But aside from the customer service, organizational and data entry skills I developed, throughout my time volunteering at the Heart & Stroke Foundation, I met many volunteers and staff from all walks of life whose lives have been touched by heart disease, something we connected over since my mom has a heart problem too.
If you’re deciding on which organization to volunteer for, I encourage you to choose one that is personally meaningful to you as this can help connect you with like-minded people.
2. Volunteering Provides Unique Learning Opportunities
Volunteering has also given me more chances to hone my transferrable skills and learn new skills along the way.
As a volunteer narrator (also suspended due to COVID-19) for the Centre for Accessibility, through recording audiobooks for those that are unable to use print, I became familiar with using audio software and improved my speaking skills with the help of Forvo.
Another role that I learned so much from was being part of the Workshops Committee in the LFS ACE (Land and Food Systems Academic and Career Engagement) Team. This team is part of the UBC Peer Programs. Being part of the team exposed me to:
- marketing skills, including graphic design techniques to promote our workshops on social media
- project management skills, including designing a workshop from top to bottom (because the workshops committee was a new addition to the team)
- facilitation skills, including strategies to hold space on Zoom
In addition to this role, being an Imagine UBC Orientation Leader last year and a Senior Imagine UBC Orientation Leader this year further developed my collaboration skills with the amazing student leaders and staff advisors I worked with. Attending Imagine Day in my first year has been one of my favorite campus experiences, which motivated me to apply as a leader so that I can give incoming students a warm welcome like how student leaders warmly welcomed me to UBC.
Being a student leader gave me the opportunity to take a Community Building Education Course which further educated me on topics, including leading on Indigenous land, active bystanding and diversity, equity, and inclusion in community building. Becoming equipped with this knowledge and skills then gave me the confidence to start seeking work opportunities, including being a Chapman Learning Commons Assistant!
3. Volunteering Builds Community
Lastly, as part of my faith, every week I go to church with my family. This parish is a community I grew up in and being involved as an altar server, youth leader, lector (i.e., a reader) and choir member has allowed me to stay connected not only to my faith, but also to my culture. For example, celebrating Filipino traditions has allowed me to join in singing Tagalog.
Through personal reflection and conversations with my support network, including career advisors about my volunteer experiences, I think about how it really comes down to how I view my experiences because I have gotten much more out of this than expected. This includes opportunities to meet new people and learn from them, develop valuable skills and become more connected to my community. Most importantly, it always makes me happy to know that behind every task, is a person on the other end that I am giving service to. I invite you to take time to also reflect and have conversations with others about identifying meaning in your own volunteer experiences.
Thank you for reading, I hope this blog post inspired you to volunteer/continue your involvement. Note that although I mentioned that some of my roles have been suspended due to the pandemic, there are still many virtual and in-person volunteer opportunities out there. I have linked some resources below to help you get started!
What are some things you look forward to in volunteering? For those that are currently volunteering, what are some lessons you’ve learned through your experiences?
- UBC CareersOnline (Tip: Also keep an eye out for Job & Volunteer Fairs, such as the annual West Coast Virtual Fairs)
- UBC Centre for Community Engaged Learning (Sign up to their monthly newsletter to receive updates on volunteer opportunities and upcoming community events)
- UBC Centre for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL) Volunteer Opportunities Survey
- UBC Centre for Student Involvement & Careers (Provides career advising, information about UBC volunteer or work opportunities, webinars and more!)
- Good Work (Opportunities for Environmental Work)
- Charity Village (Opportunities for Charitable and Nonprofit Organizations)
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