Volunteer for Free Work Experience!
By Denise Hogue
It's frustrating yes, but there is a way to get ahead! Start volunteering right now while you're in high school, and by the time you hit university you may have a good amount of job-related experience from working with non-profit organizations!
Many non-profit organizations need help in running their businesses, promoting their causes, or organizing their special events. Because they're not-for-profit, these organizations can't afford to pay an employee hourly wages, so they rely on like-minded teens and adults to help them along the way. Often, in return for your time, organizations offer free job and/or computer training. Volunteering is a great way for you to build job experience and support a cause that you believe in!
What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?
With a little bit of creativity, there are numerous opportunities to find work experience that you will enjoy through volunteering. Consider what you hope to pursue as a career…
…Want to own your own clothing boutique in the future? Why not start off by spending one night a week volunteering at a local charity's second hand store? Many organizations accept donations of clothing and household goods and sell them at small storefronts. The money raised goes to the organization, so volunteer labour runs the place! It's a great way to learn about retail, cash handling, merchandising and working with a till or computer. You may even get first dibs on buying the new donations as they come in. Score!
Perhaps you dream about becoming a nurse, doctor or physiotherapist? There are lots of opportunities with non-profit health and wellness organizations, from visiting programs - where you spend time with seniors or patients in the hospital to socialize, or organize games and activities - to helping out with the Canadian Red Cross or St. John Ambulance as a first aid attendant or representative at community events. These programs will provide you with full training, and you may have the opportunity to learn CPR and other first aid. Time you spend at the local hospital or extended care home may inspire your choice of specialization once you move on to medical school!
If writing is more your gig, consider checking out your local community paper. Many of these papers rely on contributions from local writers to fill their pages. Or, you could assist a program that is in need of someone to write grant proposals or document meetings. Your local library may need volunteers for reading programs or after school activities. And lots of non-profits have web sites to help generate public interest, but not a lot have the budget to hire an expensive web designer. If you are learning website creation, why not spend some time and donate a website