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Before moving to Canada, I heard that Canadians really value volunteering, but it was only after I arrived that I realized how much that’s true. I always tried to volunteer back at home, but people never gave it the importance they do here in Canada. At first, I looked out for volunteer opportunities because people told me it would look good on my resume and because everyone else seemed to be doing it, too. And let me tell you, I’m so glad I did. It’s awesome how many ways you can benefit from volunteering, so here’s just three reasons why I volunteer:

1. Making Friends

The benefit of volunteering I enjoy the most is getting to meet new people and make friends. You get to befriend people you never thought you’d be friends with. You get to know people who are different from you, people with different beliefs and opinions, or even people who don’t like pizza. This helps you see the world with a new perspective and you’ll be glad for it. By the end of my first term studying in Canada, I decided to apply for a volunteer position. During the interview I met some new people and one of the girls I met that day eventually became my roommate. Not only do we live together, she has also become a great friend. If it weren’t for my decision to start volunteering, I probably wouldn’t have a nice roommate who doesn’t mind doing the dishes or I would still be paying double the rent.

2. Making Professional Connections

Meeting people is still great even if you don’t become the best of friends, because they can become connections for you in the future. This can come in handy when you apply for a job five years from now and realize that that guy Kevin you volunteered with works in that company and can put in a good word for you. Or maybe your supervisor can write a great reference for you when you decide to start looking for jobs. And if we are still talking about job opportunities and all that, let’s not forget that volunteer work looks great on a resume! Volunteering shows employers that you are a person with initiative and that you care.

3. Getting to Know Yourself

Another great benefit you gain from volunteering, bear with me here because it’ll sound cheesy, is that you get to know yourself better. Volunteering allows you to find new likes and dislikes, discover hidden abilities (unfortunately, flying is not one of them), and better understand who you are and who you want to be; not only in the professional world, but in all aspects of life.

Volunteering has opened so many doors for me, and has allowed me to grow in so many ways. Some of the best friends I have here in Canada I met through volunteering. It was also because of the people I met through my volunteer positions and the experience I gained from volunteer work that I was able to get my first Co-op job. You all might think I’ve exaggerated a bit, but as you can see, there is a lot to benefit from when volunteering and getting involved on campus.

If you’re suddenly inspired and want to start volunteering ASAP, you should check out myInvolvement for opportunities on-campus and myExperience or govolunteer.ca for opportunities off-campus.

Julia C. Fernandes is currently a third year Communication student. She is originally from Brazil and found a love for volunteering here in Canada. During her free time she enjoys reading, writing, and binge-watching as many TV shows as possible. She is also a School of Communication First Year Experience Ambassador.

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