York students were given an opportunity to meet with representatives from not-for-profit and charitable organizations at a recent Volunteer Fair hosted by the Career Centre.
The first event of its kind to be hosted by York’s Career Centre, the fair took place in Vari Hall on the Keele campus. Students who visited the fair learned first-hand about the valuable skills and opportunities afforded by volunteering. More than 1,400 students and new graduates came out to the fair to meet with representatives from 22 organizations.
The Volunteer Fair offered a variety of volunteering options for York students and new graduates wanting to give a few hours of their time over the summer months or commit to participating in a longer-term volunteer program. The organizations in attendance Feb. 17 were looking to fill a broad range of volunteer positions, including peer mentors with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto, grant writers for Humanity First, canoe trip leaders with Camp Outlook and even gardeners with the Young Urban Farmers.
In addition to providing students with an opportunity to connect with volunteer organizations, the Volunteer Fair supported the University’s mandate of community engagement – something for which York is already recognized. “Students at York have a reputation of being altruistic and very hard-working,” said Adeel Mulla of the Learning Disabilities Association of Toronto. “Volunteering is an excellent way for students to get some practical experience in their field and give back to the community.”
John Cox of the Canadian Cancer Society echoed these sentiments, saying that his organization was eager to come to the Volunteer Fair. “In the past we’ve engaged a lot of York University students in a lot of our volunteer opportunities and we thought it was a great way to make more face contact and engage more students,” said Cox. “It also seems like York University students are eager to help out. We post online and we always get a fantastic response from them. ”
York students and new graduates not only have a reputation of wanting to give back to their communities, but they also have a range of skills, backgrounds and experiences that make them ideal candidates for volunteering says Irka Prus of St. John Ambulance.
“We have such a vast array of people here that we’re really impressed with the magnitude of interests and skill sets,” said Prus. “We are looking for dedicated volunteers who are interested, who are excited, who want to participate and who are committed. The programs that York offers really work closely with what we have to offer; we can hone in on those skills and help students develop them.”
Volunteering is a great way to get involved and give back to your community. It is also a terrific opportunity for students and new grads to explore career options by gaining new experiences, opening doors to networks of contacts, building skills and ultimately getting a clearer understanding of who they are and what they want in the world of work, said Jennifer Bramer, director of the Career Centre.
“We hope this event has encouraged students and new graduates to get involved and provided them with an opportunity to make valuable connections with volunteer organizations,” said Bramer. “We look forward to hosting the Volunteer Fair again next year.”
Students who missed the Volunteer Fair can view online profiles of the organizations that attended the fair. The online profiles provide information about the types of positions available and how to apply for each position. Volunteer opportunities are also posted online in the Career Centre’s job posting system.
Students interested in additional ways to connect with organizations, employers and alumni are encouraged to visit the Career Centre website.