This post was originally written by CYH blogger, Georgia Quinn.
As an employment counselor, I interact youth with various employment backgrounds. My job is to assist youth in my program in their search for work. Some youth arrive with a resume; some may arrive without any experience at all. I encourage those who have the time and motivation to volunteer in an area of interest in order to gain valuable experience and knowledge. The thing I am confronted with all the time is the fact that youth don’t want to get involved in something that offers no monetary contribution. Like, really? You want me to provide assistance, promotion or labour for a company or organization and NOT get paid? Where’s the fun in that? Actually, even though volunteering can be a big commitment, it can also be an interesting activity. Looking back at my volunteer experiences, I think – yeah, maybe it sucked having to get up at 7am on a weekend – but overall, I gained great knowledge of organizations through first-hand experience, met new people, learned things about myself, and got to help out someone who really needed free help. My suggestion to youth of all ages is: get involved in organizations, companies or events that interest you. It’s an awesome way to network, get references, build your resume and get an idea of whether or not you’d want to work in that industry later on down the road. Many high schools have volunteering components built into their curriculum. This is great, but don’t be afraid to step out on your own and check out alternative ways to donate your time. Interested in fashion? E-mail or call a local company and see if they have anything available for you to help out with. Want to become a teacher? Check out to see if local childcare programs need volunteers. Want to meet people in your community? Go to your local community centre or neighbourhood house and check out their volunteer opportunities! I promise you, you will gain new insight and knowledge from offering your skills as a volunteer. It might not pay financially, but the experience will definitely pay off in the long term.