Natalie Pope is currently in her fourth year majoring in both Communications and English. When she was hired as a part-time marketing assistant for co-op, she realized that only taking 2 courses left her with a lot of time on her hands. Natalie decided she wanted to volunteer her time to do something that she loves - writing.
She stumbled upon MyExperience one day, which she had become very familiar with because of countless hours she has spent looking for a co-op job, and saw that OLC was searching for blog writers. "Blogging?" she thought, "Sounds fun," and that was when her exciting volunteer journey with the OLC started.
On Volunteering with the OLC
Q: What did you enjoy the most or was the most rewarding part about volunteering in this position?
I saw this as an opportunity to write about my co-op experience, and to do so at my own pace. The great thing about volunteering for OLC is that you can sit at home in your pajamas at whatever time of day, and you can still volunteer. In other words, I really like the flexibility that being a blog writer for OLC has to offer. It has been really rewarding to see my blog posts posted and to look and see the 'number of reads' gradually increase and to know that my voice is being heard! One time when I was in the mall, I actually ran into someone I went to high school with and she told me she has been reading my blog posts! She also told me she is a Communications student and plans to do co-op as well, and she found my blogs helpful! I almost fell over! Not only do I get to do something I enjoy, but also knowing that at least one person feels they have benefited from my blogs is truly rewarding. Who knows, maybe others have benefitted too!
Q: What are some of the challenges new volunteers can expect from the position?
As much as I love writing for the OLC, there are challenges sometimes. Occasionally, I have felt very uninspired to write. There have been times when I felt like nothing has been noteworthy for me to post, or things are just too 'obvious' to even bother writing about them, but I have come up with a solution. Some days I have many ideas and not enough time to write about them. When I get that sudden inspiration, I would email myself the idea or write it down, and when I do get a chance to write I have some inspiration right at my fingertips!
Another challenge, which I'm sure many students understand, is time management. Sometimes life is too hectic to get a chance to sit down and just write. Fortunately, OLC is very understanding and flexible. Their realistic goal of '1 or more blog posts' a month allows me to fit writing time into my hectic schedule. Most of the time I just sit down and write two articles back to back on a day where I have a good chunk of time.
Q: What other benefits can SFU students gain from this volunteer position?
I absolutely love writing and hope to incorporate writing into my future career, and to have another piece of writing to add to my portfolio is incredibly important. In many co-op interviews employers ask students to bring one or two writing samples, and being a blogger for the OLC is a great way to meet that requirement.
It is also important to show your future employer that you are capable of working independently. Other than emailing your OLC editor and discussing your post through email, it is a very independent position that requires someone who will be reliable in starting their own work with minimal prompting. After emailing your post to your editor, your editor will provide positive and constructive feedback to improve your blog. This process also shows your future employers that you can take constructive criticisms well to improve your performance and still maintaining a positive attitude.
On Getting Involved in the Community
Right now, I am still working part time at my co-op job, taking classes, and volunteering. Not only is it a lot of fun to keep busy, but also it's a lot of fun to volunteer doing something you love. I have a passion for writing, and as an OLC blogger I have really enjoyed volunteering my time. If you are looking to volunteer, you do not have to look too far. Simply go to MyExperience and search for volunteer positions and you are on your way! Make sure to look for something that you think you would enjoy. Another option is to keep an eye out for emails from various advisors because they often send out emails for groups looking for volunteers. Volunteering is not only fun, but it also helps you gain practical life skills and could even get you a job! Check out my next blog post and see how that happened for me!
Join Natalie on her co-op journey and read about her job search and workplace success stories and advice.
Beyond the Blog
Be Sure to read Natalie's Co-op Job Search series to get the inside scoop on the seeking process!