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How Do I Apply to Volunteer if I Don't Have Work Experience?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, January 18, 2016
 "> Ask Kelly Banner

 

“Ask Us” is our blog series aimed at answering your most pressing volunteer questions. Got a burning question? We're here to help!

Submit your question to info@volunteertoronto.ca - subject line: Ask Us



 

Hello Volunteer Toronto,

My name is Jian and I am in grade 10. I want to volunteer and get my 40 hours, but I am unsure where to start especially because I’ve never worked or volunteered anywhere before. What is the best way for me to find a volunteer position? I’ve noticed some places ask for resumes, but since I don’t have any experience, what can I send in?

- Jian


 


Hello Jian,

Thank you so much for your letter and your question! We're really glad to hear you want to volunteer and get your 40 hours! Volunteering can be fun, a great way to meet new people and it could give you some experience to put on your resume. 

The best way for you to start looking for positions is to go to our website at www.volunteertoronto.ca/opportunities and search by Category “1. Suitable for Youth (14-17)”. That will bring up any positions that are looking for youth volunteers. Please know that new positions are being posted every day!

 

 

 

When you find a position title that appeals to you, click on it and you’ll find more information about the position. At the bottom you’ll find a section that says “How to Apply/Contact” follow those instructions to contact the organization directly.

You are right that sometimes in the “How to Apply/Contact” section, an organization will ask for a resume. Since you don’t have any experience, we would encourage you to draft a document that highlights your major achievements, your top skills and the things you are interested in. Or if you’d like to try writing a resume, this article gives some fantastic tips for high school students with no experience. Remember, just because you don’t have formal experience, you still have a lot to offer! Make sure to make it look professional and check for spelling and grammar.

In your application, we encourage you to also include a paragraph or cover letter that explains your interest in the position and the skills you have to offer. Why do you want to volunteer for that organization in particular? What are you great at?

If you need any additional help, Jian, feel free to contact one of our volunteer advisors who will be more than happy to help.

 

Tags:  40 volunteer hours  applying to volunteer  how do I get a volunteer position  how to volunteer  how to write a volunteer resume  Volunteer questions 

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Spending Time with Seniors isn’t Old News

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, December 21, 2015
Updated: November 15, 2019
 

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 


Like it or not, Canada’s population is rapidly aging. Statistics Canada found that for the first time, there are more persons aged 65 years and older in Canada than children aged 0 to 14 years. So what does this mean for you? Instead of searching for signs of grey in your hair, take a moment to consider spending time with senior citizens in your community.

 
Give Something Back

Canadians aged 65-74 give the most hours annually to volunteer causes. People in this age group recognize the importance of participating in community efforts and spending time with people in need. So why not return the favour?


Understanding the Elderly

As people age, life can change significantly. Mobility and health issues may become more prominent and lifestyle changes often occur. Since some elderly people aren’t able to engage in the same activities they used to, they can easily feel marginalized.

In fact, depression among seniors is common. The Mood Disorders Society of Canada found that 5% to 10% of seniors will experience a depressive disorder that is serious enough to require treatment and the rate of anxiety and depression dramatically increases from 30% to 40% for seniors living in institutions. It also found that chronic pain, living alone without a supportive network, and death of loved ones can be contributing factors to depression among senior citizens, so engaging with elderly citizens in a volunteer capacity can be an important preventative measure.


Getting Social

There are a variety of ways to get involved with senior citizens. Participating in social activities — whether with individuals or groups — can be extremely rewarding and provide a strong support system for seniors who may feel isolated.

Something as simple as volunteering as a conversation partner, or lending your talents at a long-term care facility, can make a significant difference in a senior’s life. Many seniors organizations look for Friendly Visitors to meet and chat with residents every week to improve their social activities. And if you’re able to play a musical instrument, there are often roles that involve performing for residents to bring some fun and entertainment to their lives.

Assisting seniors who may need help with routine activities is another great way to get involved, whether through formal volunteering or simply helping an older relative or neighbour. You could help an elderly person with:

  • Yard work,
  • Minor household maintenance,
  • Gardening and landscaping,
  • Grocery shopping,
  • Computer literacy and written communication, and,
  • Accompaniment to appointments and errands.


Let’s not forget that senior citizens are an important part of Canadian society. At best, seniors are honoured and celebrated. At worst, they are considered a burden or are neglected. Spending time volunteering with seniors affirms the fact that everyone should be valued and cared for, regardless of age. Visit our search engine and select "Senior Care" under the category drop-down menu to see how you can positively impact a senior’s life today!


Tags:  friendly visitor  how to volunteer with seniors  senior care  seniors home  volunteer with the elderly  volunteering with seniors  why volunteer with seniors 

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Has Volunteering Fallen Out of Vogue?

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, November 30, 2015
Updated: November 26, 2015

  

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

 

Recent studies have shown less people are volunteering now than in previous years. 12.7 million Canadians volunteered in 2013 compared to 13.3 million in 2010. So why are Canadians  volunteering less and why should we still continue volunteer despite these reasons?


Can’t Find Time

According to Volunteer Canada, 65% of Canadians cited ‘lack of time’ as a major obstacle to volunteering. While it can feel like finding time to fit in a volunteer activity is impossible, many organizations are flexible and only require a few hours per week—or even per month—from volunteers. There are also an increasing number of volunteer positions that can be done from home, providing a practical alternative for those who may have been discouraged by distance or time constraints.

 

Scared of Commitment

 

Canadians just can’t seem to commit, even with no wedding ring involved. Volunteer Canada found that 61% of people are afraid of long-term volunteer commitment. Prospective volunteers may be discouraged by mandatory commitment periods, without realizing a few important things:

  • There is room for flexibility within most volunteer positions
  • Commitment periods are often enacted due to volunteers who repeatedly fail to show up and/or abandon the position without adequate notice

In all relationships, communication is key. If you’re interested in a volunteer position but aren’t sure about a commitment term, talk to the supervisor of the role! You will be able to discuss options and gain a better understanding of why a term may be asked (e.g. working with children during the school year).

 

 

Prefer to Donate Instead

Donating to a cause is always welcome, but it’s not the only way to get involved. Aside from funding, organizations need manpower to effectively further their causes. Think of it this way:

If you run a non-profit student mentorship program and have funding, but no mentors, then the program probably won’t be very successful. If you have a cold, the doctor likely won’t prescribe you a Toonie.

Instead of just money, find out if you can donate your time, even on a short-term basis. An extra set of hands packing boxes or writing letters can go a long way.

 

 

No One Asked

Canadians don’t shy away from hopping in to help—59% of the population aged 15 and older had volunteered at some point in their lives. But often people wait to be asked. Be proactive and have a look to see what volunteer opportunities are out there. At any one time, Volunteer Toronto’s website has hundreds of volunteer roles waiting to be filled, so have a browse and go for any that interest you! 

 

If you believed volunteering wasn’t for you based on any of the above reasons, don’t count yourself out. 85% of Canadians have participated in some form of informal volunteering, such as housework, personal care or helping out a friend. You’ve likely volunteered in one of the above ways already. Plus, the fact that you’re reading this means you’re on the right track. As the world evolves, volunteer opportunities do too. Many organizations have diverse roles tailored to different skill sets and time commitments. So if you figured it wasn’t for you, there’s no better time to take a second look.

 
 

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How You Can Help Syrian Refugees in Toronto

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, November 24, 2015
Updated: November 24, 2015
 
 Photo from egyptianstreets.com
 

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 

Back in February, I attended a small gathering at my church to hear about the possibility of sponsoring a family from Syria. I had been following the uprising in the news and felt drawn to help in whatever way I could. The facilitator explained the steps involved and the commitment we would have to make in supporting the family as a private sponsor. It seemed like a lot of work, but the group was ready and willing to try.

Fast forward to today and our small group has expanded to over 30 members, including partners from a Toronto mosque, two grade schools and a group of lawyers and friends ready to make a difference. We are well on our way to sponsoring 3 families and there is a big possibility that we can sponsor a 4th or 5th family. The outpouring of generosity and love has been astounding. People are coming out of nowhere to give their support. It makes me extremely proud to live in Toronto. 

Now, with the Canadian Government committing to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees, there is a lot of work to be done and help needed. 


Here are five things you can do:

VOLUNTEER at organizations that support refugees such as the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture, a non-profit which aids survivors in overcoming the lasting effects of torture and war. Based in Scarborough and downtown Toronto, they’re currently looking for volunteers to: befriend survivors of torture as they adjust to life in Toronto, tutor English learners, interpret for those who do not speak English and deliver public presentations to increase the Centre’s visibility. Click here for more info, or contact Juliette at jntege@ccvt.org or 416-750-3045 ext 205.

You can also check out our new volunteer page specifically geared to those looking to volunteer to help refugees, 



GATHER community members and sponsor an individual refugee or family through the government’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program or through the Toronto-based non-profit Lifeline Syria. Also, there are great information sessions offered through ORAT - Office for Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto to help you understand and prepare for sponsorship. 

UPDATE: Welcome Ontario is another great site with a plethora of information on ways you can sponsor, donate or volunteer to help!


 

SUPPORT Toronto-based organizations like:

Toronto Friends of Refugees

Matthew House

Sojourn House

Romero House

Christie Refugee Welcome Centre

FCJ Refugee Centre

West Neighbourhood House

Adam House

 

TRIEC

Turtle House Art/Play Centre

CultureLink

Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office

Albion Neighbourhood Services

University Settlement

Warden Woods Community Centre

Furniture Bank 

W
oodgreen

 

DONATE to international aid organizations serving on the frontlines.

RESEARCH any local groups or organizations in your area already working to sponsor refugees. Organizations that are Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH) are allowed to privately sponsor refugees. The Canadian Government has an extensive list of all the SAH holders in Canada. Donate money or offer your time to help them. It truly takes a village to sponsor a family. 

 

The City of Toronto has just launched a website with information on all the services available to sponsors and refugees. This will be updated with new information on a regular basis

The charities, local agencies and SAH's are not exhaustive but are meant to increase your awareness of the possibilities.


 

Tags:  Donate to help Syrian refugees  How to help Syrian Refugees in Toronto  Refugee sponsorship  refugees  syrian refugee crisis  Toronto  volunteer  Volunteer with refugees 

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Gaining Work Experience as a Newcomer to Toronto

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, November 18, 2015
Updated: November 15, 2019
 
 
 Photo from New To Canada Website
 

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes 

Are you new to Toronto? Interested in finding ways to gain employment, improve your English skills, and connect with your community? Volunteering could be your ticket to achieving all of those things!

Finding work in Toronto is a struggle for many people, but for newcomers, the barrier is even greater. It might be because some employers and regulatory bodies require Canadian experience as a legitimate job requirement. Other employers may simply want to ensure that you are aware of Canadian employment standards or may not have practices in place to evaluate your language and communication skills.  

When you volunteer, you have the opportunity to gain work experience, network and gain references, make new friends, and learn more about the city where you live. 

So, how do you get started volunteering? Below we'll answer some common questions to help you get started:

 

What is volunteering?  

The act of volunteering is the giving of time and service, usually at non-profits (organizations that don’t exist to make a profit but instead serve a certain cause) and community organizations.


What is the time commitment?

Volunteer opportunities can vary in length of time and depend on the type of activity and your availability. You can volunteer for an event held on a specified day, this is called a "special event." When you commit to an organization for less than three months, it is called a "short-term" opportunity. Lastly, a "long-term" opportunity is one that will last for more than three months.

 

Can I volunteer if I don’t have Canadian references?  Do I need a work permit? 

References can come from your country of origin, do not need to be from employers and can come from other sources such as friends, landlords or workers.  A work permit is not needed, and you can volunteer on a visitor or student visa.

 

I want to practice my English, what type of volunteer opportunities should I look for?


Looking for opportunities that are predominantly task based will allow you to meet new people and practice your English-speaking skills.  When using Volunteer Toronto's search engine, select "Event Assistance Positions," Animal Care Positions," "Fundraising," and "Working with Newcomers" from the drop-down category menu, as these opportunities are better suited for people who are learning English. 

 

How do I start? 

To get started you must Reflect, Research, Reach Out. Ask yourself, what are my interests? What are my skills? How much time can I offer? What do I want to gain? Click on"Volunteer Opportunities" under the "Volunteer" tab on the volunteertoronto.ca home page to explore all the available positions.  Apply by following the instructions in the position description. Contact the person listed if you have any questions. Volunteer Toronto’s How To Start Volunteering page is another great resource to help you start your volunteering journey.

 

Karishma Mohammed moved to Canada in 2014 from Trinidad and Tobago. When asked what surprised her about volunteering, she responded: 

“My initial intention was to be involved in a charity that would 'look good' on my resume but, when I actually became more involved in volunteer work, it took a life of its own. … I got so much in return, I met people from all walks of life, I learned to appreciate that good ideas can come from anywhere and that no one is too old or young to volunteer.”

 

 

Jaime Yumiseva from Ecuador, also moved to Canada in 2014. When reflecting on his volunteer contributions he said:

“My most rewarding experience has been being able to contribute to committed organizations, committed administrators and committed attendees. Volunteering allows me to see how my time influences the life of somebody else, even if it is for a short while … and has made me realize that there is so much more to give. Volunteering is my way to share my happiness and knowledge with others.”

   

If you have a hyper-specialized skill, it is unlikely you will find a volunteer opportunity that allows you to gain that specific experience here in Toronto. Try breaking down the components of that skill and research the volunteer opportunities that might fit the experience you need.

Looking for further advice? Why not attend one of our free "Volunteering as a Newcomer" info sessions? These sessions are delivered by our experienced Volunteer Ambassadors, many of whom are newcomers themselves! Click here for a list of upcoming dates and locations. 

Can’t attend on Thursday? Book a free, 30-minute, one-on-one appointment with a volunteer advisor. They can help you find the volunteer opportunity that is right for you.

 

Tags:  Canadian work experience  finding work experience  finding work in Toronto  How to get work experience  How to start volunteering  job experience  new immigrant  newcomers to Toronto  on work experience  unemployment  Volunteering as a newcomer 

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5 Reasons Why You Should Go to Volunteer Toronto’s Youth Expo

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, October 13, 2015
Updated: December 19, 2016
 
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

HyunGu is a grade 12 student at the University of Toronto Schools. She began volunteering for Heritage Toronto three years ago and has since given her time to organizations like the YMCA, Amnesty International, and Volunteer Toronto. Back in May, she suggested that Volunteer Toronto host a youth volunteer fair and her idea has developed into the Youth Expo.

As she makes the transition from high school to university, HyunGu reflects on how volunteerism has enriched her life, and why youth should attend the Youth Expo to get involved!

Here's why HyunGu thinks you (and all your friends) should come to VT's Youth Expo! 

 

 

Get Community Service Hours

Every high school student in Ontario is required to complete 40 hours of volunteer work, and certain specialized curricula may ask for up to 150 hours. Fulfilling extra community service not only ensures graduation, but also qualifies you for lucrative national scholarships. The TD, Loran, Future Aces and Duke of Ed Awards can all support your post-secondary education, and all four organizations will be present at the Expo!


Learn Marketable Skills

It's no secret that the job market is tough on youth today. Volunteering provides training and real-world experience in professional skills, making your resume stand out. Youth Auditing  taught me advocacy and leadership. Amnesty International exposed me to human rights activism and research. In an economy where experience is required for employment, volunteerism provides a low-risk, high reward way of learning in a professional environment.


Find Mentors

Volunteering has helped me develop ideas I am passionate about and brought me in contact with leaders from diverse backgrounds and with specific expertise. From origami to opera, event-planning to scientific research, there is a mentor out there for you, just as eager to teach as you are to learn!


Get References

One of the universal disadvantages of being a youth in an adult world is our lack of work experience. By far the best way to combat this  is to garner references from mentors. Volunteering connects youth to mentors who in return, can vouch for their youth volunteers.. These references can then be used for work, school, or other volunteer opportunities. One of the mentors I met through volunteering is even providing a supplementary reference for university!


Grow

High school is a time for growth, and volunteering has helped me grow in too many ways to count. I've met new people, built new skills, and even got to explore some of my favourite parts of the city while volunteering. By challenging me to take ownership of my future and supporting me as I elbow a place for myself in the adult world, volunteerism has played a hugely important role in who I am today. The Youth Expo is designed to connect Torontonians to volunteer opportunities, is the perfect opportunity for all youth to bring this element into their lives! 

 

If volunteering could inspire HyunGu, why not you? Get started on your volunteer adventure by attending this years Youth Expo!

 

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5 Ways Volunteering Can Help You Find a Job

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, October 7, 2015
Updated: October 5, 2015

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 

Maya Atallah - Volunteer“When I came to the city last year, as you can expect things were not very easy: different lifestyle, different culture and most of all different weather! I was completely out of my comfort zone and wanted to quickly blend in and feel like I was part of this new community. When I started volunteering at Volunteer Toronto, it totally changed my life. I suddenly regained my passion, developed a sense of commitment and felt awesome when helping others. It has also allowed me to practice my marketing skills for a good cause and opened my eyes to how nice people are in the city and how diversity is what Toronto is all about.” 


- Maya Atallah

 

Maya moved to Canada from Egypt over 12 months ago. She was an ace volunteer at Volunteer Toronto, serving as a Volunteer Advisor, Volunteer Ambassador, and Social Media Advisor, helping individuals connect to meaningful volunteer opportunities. After a few months on the job hunt, she was able to land a new job in Corporate Marketing. 

Maya’s story isn’t unique. Many people turn to volunteering when looking for work. As Maya’s story outlines, volunteering can help job-seekers regain passion, connect with others, and become familiar with a new city. It can also help you in other ways.

 

Here are 5 ways volunteering can help you find a job:

 

Helps Develop Your Skills

When thinking about the job you would like, reflect on what skills are necessary for the position. Think about hard skills, like IT knowledge or nursing experience, and soft skills, like leadership, managing multiple priorities, and research. What skills would you like to develop? Search for volunteer opportunities that suit the hard or soft skills you’d like to improve.

 

Allows You To Network

Volunteering allows you the opportunity to meet many new people. Reflect on who you would like to make connections with and look for volunteer opportunities that will allow you to make some of those connections.

 

Gives You Interview Practice

The application process for volunteer positions often mirrors looking for work. Usually, you will be asked for a cover letter and resume and need to participate in interviews, whether by phone or in-person. This is an awesome opportunity to practice adapting cover letters and resumes for specific roles and to practice answering questions in an interview.

 

Provides You With Constructive Feedback

In general, volunteer coordinators want to see their volunteers thrive in their roles (and in life more generally). When volunteering, feel free to ask for feedback from your supervisor about your performance in the role. This will help you identify your strengths and work on your areas of improvement. If you don’t get the volunteer position you were hoping for, ask how you could have improved on your application.

 

Helps You Earn Great References

Many volunteer coordinators will be willing to act as your reference. If this is important to you, make sure to ask if their organization allows for this before you start volunteering. If they say yes, ask if you'll have to fulfill a certain time commitment before you're given a reference. Of course, getting a great reference will depend on you doing your volunteer service well. make sure to arrive on time, complete the assigned tasks to the best of your ability, and ask questions if you don’t understand something.        

 

And remember, volunteering won’t only benefit you as a jobseeker, but it can be an incredibly fun and engaging way to get involved in your community and better our city!

 


Tags:  Career  Finding a Job  How to get a job  Job Hunt  volunteer engagement  Volunteering  Work  Work Experience 

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