Benefits of giving time
By Sara Marett
Wondering how to pad a resume or looking for work experience but don't have time for a part-time job?
Western's Volunteer Fair has expanded this year and will run until Friday Sept. 26, explained Sue Tang, University Students' Council community of London commissioner.
Tang said the fair boasts almost 100 agencies looking for volunteers to help out with their organizations. The groups involved this year are more diverse than past years, she said, ranging from Orchestra London to the Memorial Boys and Girls Club.
"Students and agencies alike are finding that people need this type of experience to get a job," Tang said, adding this kind of involvement provides more than padding for a resume. "It is an immediate self-esteem builder and proves you are making a difference in your community," she said.
Sharon Lee, coordinator of student employment services in the student development centre, agrees there are definite rewards involved with volunteering, but is not convinced that volunteer placements always lead to career opportunities.
"There seems to be some disappointment as a lot of students believe a volunteer position will lead to a permanent job and that is not always the case," she said.
Lee explained there was an explosion of volunteer opportunities in the early 1990s when the job market suddenly got very tight. "At this time, people needed to volunteer to get the experience they needed for a possible job, whereas now I think people are using volunteering as an opportunity to network and gain work experience."
Another trend in the volunteer scene involves an apparent gender imbalance when it comes to those wanting to get involved. "We have noticed a lack of male involvement with volunteer organizations," Tang said, adding this is an imbalance that should not exist.
Cindy Davis is president of One To One, an organization run by the USC which matches volunteer students with young children in the community. "It is like big brothers and sisters, we usually have children recommended to us by the Children's Aid Society," she said.
Davis explained their organization is having a difficult time getting males to volunteer, which is a problem as approximately 80 per cent of the children to be matched with a volunteer are boys.
She explained because of the demographics involved, One To One has had to match young boys with female volunteers, when it is preferable to have a same-sex match. "The guys who do come out have a great time," she said, adding she hopes more males will sign up this year.