More than 1,600 students and new graduates came out to meet with representatives from 25 organizations at York University's second annual Volunteer Fair on Nov. 17 at the Keele campus.
The fair, which was hosted by the York University Career Centre, was designed to give students and new graduates an opportunity to meet with not-for-profit and charitable organizations to learn about getting involved, gaining experience and making a difference. As a twist, this year's Volunteer Fair aligned with the “York Cares” United Way Campaign. Representatives from the United Way were at the fair to speak with students and new graduates about the variety of volunteer opportunities available to them through the United Way and its member agencies.
York students and new graduates wanting to build career-related skills, gain experience and give back to their communities had a variety of volunteer options to choose from whether they were able to give a few hours of their time or commit to a longer term volunteer program. Like the United Way, the organizations attending the fair were looking to fill a broad range of volunteer positions, from fundraising for the Canadian Cancer Society and mentorship roles with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Toronto, to youth ambassadors at Youth Challenge International and peer support team members for York’s Office of Student Conflict Resolution.
“It was definitely a great experience. It’s wonderful that the organizations are coming forth and recruiting students,” said Joann Nichols, a fourth-year communications studies student in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. “It’s wonderful that people are willing to lend a helping hand because there are so many people in need and so many positive things that students can do these days.”
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. Victoria Mohr-Blakeney of Youth Challenge International and a former York student said she came to York’s Volunteer Fair because, “I think York students have so much to offer. There’s such a variety of programs at York from sciences to fine arts and I think that York students come with a huge wealth of knowledge and they make really excellent volunteer participants.”
Lori Gotlieb of the Arthritis Society echoed Mohr-Blakeney’s sentiments. “Students are the future of volunteering. It’s important for students to get engaged in volunteering for professional and personal reasons," she said. "Volunteering is important for everybody. I look at it as a win-win-win situation – it’s a win for the students, it’s a win for the organization and it’s a win for the community at large.”
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.” said Julie Rahmer, manager, employer development & communications, for the Career Centre. “Volunteering can help students clarify who they are and what they want in the world of work by gaining new experiences, opening doors to networks of like-minded contacts, and building valuable skills.”
Students who missed the Volunteer Fair can view profiles of the volunteer organizations who attended the fair to learn more about the types of positions available and how to apply. Volunteer opportunities are also posted in the Career Centre’s online job posting system. Students interested in additional ways to connect with organizations, employers and alumni are encouraged to visit the Career Centre website.
Click here to view a video about the Volunteer Fair.