By Diane Janes
Career Connection Editor
Spring is upon us and an estimated 292,678 undergraduate college and university students in Ontario are expected to start scrambling to find a summer job.
But if finding a rewarding summer job wasn't hard enough, finding one that will bolster future employment opportunities is a true challenge.
Casey Antolak worked with Meal Exchange, a student-led anti-hunger franchise.
Experts agree that working in the charitable sector is an excellent way for students to develop leadership and interpersonal skills, contribute to their community and build their resume with career-related experience.
"To stand out and command the attention of a potential employer, a student must show that their summer job experience included real accomplishments, not just a bunch of responsibilities," says Jim Hayhurst Sr., career counsellor and author of Where Have I Gone Right? The Right Mountain Guide to Getting the Job & Life You Want.
"As a career counsellor and founder of a charity, I know first-hand that the charitable sector provides students with the opportunity to develop leadership skills, connect with influential people and make a profound difference in communities. Working with a registered charity is an investment in both yourself -- and your community -- that will yield incomparable satisfaction and job experience."
The Labatt People in Action (LPIA) program helps students gain valuable work experience by funding employment they create themselves in partnership with a registered charity.
Sponsored by Labatt Breweries of Canada, LPIA has invested millions of dollars and given more than 4,000 students the opportunity to initiate and execute their own summer jobs at charities from coast to coast since 1977. This year, the program aims to help approximately 130 students across the country.
"Last year the LPIA program enabled me to help engage youth within their communities to take action surrounding local hunger issues," says Casey Antolak, a student at the University of Western Ontario. "The opportunity to develop and run my own project about an issue I am passionate about was an incredible learning and growth experience."
Antolak worked with Meal Exchange, a student-led anti-hunger franchise. MX is organized exclusively for charitable purposes with aims and objectives to:
Donate food to registered charitable organizations and those in need.
Educate students about the root causes of hunger.
Create and involve students in volunteer opportunities with not-for-profit organizations that address hunger and hunger-related issues.
Identify and implement student solutions to hunger.
Antolak was the project manager for two major initiatives. The first was the MX website (www.mealexchange.com ) re-launch, designed to transform the site into an interactive resource for volunteers, partnering organizations and the public. His second program, named "the Ambassador program" was new to MX.
The idea was to tap the energies and ideas of other non-profit organizations as resources to improve MX's operations and attract more student involvement.
Antolak, a Toronto resident, received Labatt's prestigious Future Leaders award in recognition of his work.
"LPIA provides students with the opportunity to harness their passions and to make a true impact in their community, all while earning a salary and receiving valuable employment experience." says Nigel Miller, director public affairs, Labatt Breweries of Canada.
For the third consecutive year, LPIA students will have the chance to earn a Labatt Future Leaders Award. The award is given to four LPIA students who demonstrated exceptional ability and dedication in their summer jobs, while giving back to their community.
The award includes a scholarship in the amount of $1,500 and an all-expense paid trip within Canada to attend the Social Innovators Summit where students will meet some of Canada's current leaders and share what they learned in their summer projects.
Information about the program can be found at www.lpiajobs.com, by calling Labatt at 1-800-334-2627 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
But hurry, the application deadline is March 29.
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