Many employers are only interested in hearing from applicants with Canadian experience and references. On the face of it, volunteering looks like a good way to get Canadian experience and references. This is why youngsters and new immigrants looking for their first job in
There is no question that volunteering is good for our communities: It helps to get things done that communities need but can’t afford to pay for. It benefits the volunteers too: It gives them an opportunity to network, to get involved in their communities, and meet their neighbours or others who share their views. Volunteering is a noble thing to do. To volunteer is to donate one’s time and skills: Which is as good as donating money, because if organizations and communities did not receive certain services for free, they would have to pay for them.
But if you have just immigrated to
On the other hand, if you have just finished school and you are still living at your parents’ home, you are probably more flexible. Spending 6 months volunteering in your community will likely not cost you a lot, and might be a good adventure – especially if you are not yet quite sure about what you want to do with your life. But if you are volunteering just because you hope that this will help you get a job, you should consider the odds of accomplishing your goal too.
I asked several immigrants about their own experience, and here are some interesting stories that I heard:
Dawn (all names have been changed to protect the privacy of the people I spoke with) holds an office management college diploma from her homeland, and worked in the non-profit sector before coming to
Dawn also tried volunteering with another non-profit organization for support of new immigrants. She expected that she would be doing administrative office work and gain “Canadian” experience. But on the day after she started, a manager asked her to clean the office’s floors. The same thing happened on the third day. Disappointed and frustrated, Dawn quit and decided that to go to college in
While studying, Dawn found a part-time employment opportunity at the college, which helped her gain experience. She graduated with honors, and was hired as a full-time employee by a well known company less than a month later.
George’s story is very similar. He was also a new immigrant, and holds a Master’s degree from his home country. George volunteered with an organization in
The stories of George and Dawn are not at all uncommon. They reflect the experience of most people I spoke with. I did, in fact, find two people who felt that their volunteering experience helped them land their first jobs. However, both of them volunteered while taking college programs at colleges in
The conclusion is clear: If you have limited time and resources (as most new immigrants do), it is not a good idea to rely on volunteering alone as a gateway to gaining work experience in
You can still volunteer your time and skills in your spare time if you wish, but you should not do so if your only objective is to find a job. Volunteering your time is same as donating your money: It is only worthwhile if you believe in the cause that you are contributing to, and you feel that your contribution is appreciated and will make a difference. If all that you are truly looking for is a job, then there are more efficient ways to get one.