Volunteering is a great resume boost
Somebody once said, if you want something done, give it to a busy person to do. Peter Power is a shining example of that old adage. The 23-year-old Centennial College marketing student is a human dynamo who, if he's not busy enough already, wants to spread the good news about volunteerism.
Centennial College's Environmental Student Society helped organize the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup at Morningside Park in Scarborough. Event planning is one skill students often acquire when they volunteer for a non-profit agency.
It's not a matter of time -- it's whether you're really motivated to do it," he says of volunteering. He counters the notion that today's helter-skelter lifestyles are too chaotic for people to squeeze in a few hours a week helping at a retirement home or mentoring English-as-a-second-language learners.
Find the time
Like many students, Power has to juggle the demands of his full-time college studies, his part-time job, family, relationship and his volunteer opportunities. Yet Power says students in particular should find the time to volunteer.
"A lot of students need job experience. Volunteering is a great way to get it." He cites improved skills and self-esteem, fresh challenges and the freedom to make the volunteer position your own as genuine benefits.
"Many non-profit organizations have loosely defined tasks or positions, so the volunteer can come in and make the position their own by bending the job to fit their strengths and ambitions," Power says.
Power is so convinced of the benefits of volunteering, he organized a Volunteer Fair at Centennial last month, inviting several community organizations to come on campus to meet with students.
Among those actively recruiting were the Canadian Cancer Society, Agincourt Community Services, Malvern Resource Centre, Best Buddies, The Salvation Army, the East Scarborough Storefront Project and the Volunteer Centre of Toronto. The fair attracted almost 200 Centennial students.
| Peter Power
Typical volunteer opportunities for students include fundraising, event planning or writing donation letters -- all of which help develop communication and organizational skills that are transferable to other types of jobs.
Ironically, Power's first volunteer experience was not a happy one. As a former recipient of government assistance, he was required to volunteer one hour per week. His assignment involved packing food at a food shelter. "I didn't enjoy it; it was not engaging."
But the appeal of volunteering, he says, is that the opportunities are limitless and there is bound to be something for everyone. "Volunteers can and should work in many different types of organizations, to get the full spectrum of experiences."
Beach Arts Centre
Today, Power volunteers at the Beach Arts Centre as the promotions officer, combining his love of volunteering with his creative marketing skills.
He's investigating low-buck ways of advertising the centre's $3 ballet lessons, for example, which may involve cross-promotion with other facilities in the city, like live theatres.
Centennial College offers three full-time marketing programs: 2- and 3-year Marketing, as well as a Marketing Management post-diploma program aimed at college and university grads.
The 3-year program offers one year of paid co-op work experience to eligible students.
Too busy to come to school full time? Centennial offers numerous part-time marketing courses at night and on weekends.
For more info, visit www.centennialcollege.ca/business/prog.html.
"We're trying to attract a new audience. That's why we've called it Ballet for All," says Power. "We're promoting new ways of keeping young people active and stimulated."
Back at Centennial, Power is continually thinking about ways of enhancing the student experience. Right now, he's planning to pull together the people needed to offer a free income-tax service for students and low-income residents in the community.
He emphasizes that his travails are not class assignments, but rather, he does them out of pure interest. Power also stresses that his accomplishments only come about with the assistance of a cast of thousands -- other volunteers and administrators who help make it happen.
Growing up in public housing in Flemington Park, Power is proud of the fact that he was able to come off government assistance and advance himself. "I wanted to better myself. One way to do that is through volunteerism."
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