Volunteering is underrated and you should do it

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: DYLAN CHARETTE
Opinion: Volunteering is a great way to add experience to your resume, update your skill set, and explore your interests.

When I was in university, I took up some volunteering opportunities related to media and communications to gain some practical experience to supplement my studies. While I have a full-time job, I still volunteer when I can with a non-profit media collective.

Along with adding experience to your resume, volunteering offers many opportunities for personal growth and discovering your passions.

Organizing 94.9 Radio Western’s music library and promoting the station at events gave me a greater appreciation for London’s arts and culture scene and the music industry as a whole. After sorting through mail to see many albums come in week after week and sometimes day after day, I realized it’s rare to land at the top of the charts and that good music, regardless of how popular it is, can be found anywhere.

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Being part of a community radio station brought me closer to the local music scene and fuelled my interest in alternative music. The music and promotions director at the time recommended Mother Mother because they were played on the station and matched my music taste. While I know I would listen to the band’s catchy music regardless, Radio Western is the reason why I started listening to Mother Mother and still love the band.

I also discovered my love for newscasting and became more interested in municipal politics through Radio Western. I grew up in London, but I got to know my hometown better because I volunteered on-campus. Since I loved talking on the radio so much and wished I was chasing the news instead of writing essays, I knew I wanted to study at Fanshawe College in their journalism-broadcast program and be a part of the 106.9 CIXXFM news team after undergrad.

Volunteering also develops your skills and leads to other opportunities. Before I started volunteering with LondonFuse the summer I graduated college, I thought I knew everything about photography. Looking back, I wouldn’t even publish the out-of-focus photos I thought were ‘acceptable’ back then for free.

Over my time with LondonFuse and through several good and bad shoot days, my photography skills and portfolio gallery improved — so much so that my friends asked me to take engagement photos for them because they knew I had a DSLR and that I knew how to use one.

I also became the writer and researcher for the LondonFuse Histories of London mini-documentary series project and got paid for it. Being an active Fuse contributor helped me establish the relationship with the person who offered me the job.

Volunteering is also a great way to network, both by meeting new people and getting your friends involved. Several people from over the years that I know from volunteering became my professional references. Some of those references are also friends, as we share common interests, values, and ideas of fun ways to spend the time.

A few fellow writers became LondonFuse contributors because they saw my work with the organization and wanted to get involved.

Volunteering is a rewarding way to spend your time outside of your job and/or classes, but scale back on your commitment if you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure how to manage time. You’re doing it on your own unpaid time, so your volunteer placement supervisor will understand when you are transparent with them about it.

Volunteering also fills gaps in your employment history and gives you something to do when job hunting. Unfortunately, sometimes the process of finding and securing employment can take longer than you would like, but if you believe in an organization and their mandate, volunteering can be a rewarding way to use and upgrade your skills.

When looking for a way to add to your resume and simultaneously explore your interests, consider volunteering.

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.