One of the requirements of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) is the successful completion of a minimum of 40 hours of community contribution. While for some students, the completion of volunteer activities is just one more graduation requirement, for others, it is a wealth of hidden opportunities. Below, we review some of the benefits of being an active volunteer:
- Social Networking: One of the immediate benefits of volunteering, especially volunteering for events and organization with diverse objectives, is the enriched possibility of meeting and connecting to a wide range of people. Donating your time as well as your knowledge and skills alongside people who share your interest and passion for the same cause and have similar set of expertise, gives you a unique opportunity to connect to people, to practice important social skills such as effective communication and teamwork, to form new friendships and to meet potential employers and colleagues.
- Valuable Experience: Volunteering opens a world of job and career opportunities. It gives you a rare chance to closely examine the day to day responsibilities and routine of people in their role. For example, if you are interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, then volunteering in a hospital setting will give you a glimpse of the daily life of nurses, doctors, emergency responders and other healthcare staff. This first-hand knowledge allows you to make a more informed decision about how your interests and abilities match your career ambition. In addition, volunteering makes your resume more competitive and appealing to potential employers.
- Competitive Edge: With a well-built social network, evidence-based knowledge of the duties of certain roles, improved skills, and a resume that reflects your experience and commitment to the betterment of communities, you will be one step ahead of the competition.
- Mental and Physical Health Benefits: According to a 2013 blog post published on Harvard’s Health, volunteering makes you feel more socially connected, less isolated and thus less prone to feelings of loneliness and depression. Contributing to a cause that is meaningful to you will make you feel better, will increase your self-confidence, and will improve your overall mental and physical health.