Volunteering your time and energy is a fantastic way to learn and develop useful and marketable skills, meet new people in your field, explore new interests, try out or observe potential jobs and careers, gain experience, give back to your community, and have a great time in the process. Employers and graduate schools alike view the skills and experience gained from volunteering very positively – unpaid experience is still valuable experience.
Consider the following tips when choosing an organization or program:
- Interests: What activities or tasks do you enjoy undertaking? Are the tasks dependent on a particular skill set? Is this a chance to apply academic knowledge?
- Time Commitment: How much time per week you would like to devote to the volunteer work? Is this a one-time or short-term or ongoing project?
- Skills: What skills you would like to develop? Though the work may not be directly related to your study field, consider if you can develop some of these transferrable skills through volunteering - leadership, team work, problem-solving and analysis, project management and organization, interpersonal skill, oral and written communication skills, and knowledge about the organization or the industry.
- To learn more about volunteering: Volunteering 101 at idealist.org
Voluntourism - What is it?
Voluntourism combines vacation travel with volunteering at the destination visited. Voluntourism programs usually charges participants fees for various services, you should review the service offering before signing up. For more info, read this article Voluntourism 101: The Dos and Don'ts for Planning a Volunteer Vacation at U.S. News for tips on how to choose the right organization and red flags to look for when signing up.
McGill offers many ways for you to get involved and make a difference. Consult the following links for more information or how to apply.
On-campus volunteer opportunities:
- CaPS Career Leadership Program (CLP)
- Macdonald Campus Student Affairs Office - Volunteer Opportunities
- CL&E Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteer organizations within and around McGill:
- SEDE - Communities - Choose volunteering opportunities by join a community.
- SEDE - Projects - Choose volunteering opportunities by selecting a project of interest.
- SSMU Volunteer Service Database - A comprehensive list of organizations looking for volunteers.
- SSMU Clubs - A comprehensive list of SSMU clubs
- MCSS Clubs - A comprehensive list of clubs at Macdonald campus.
- Engage McGill - This site gives you a list of university and student-led groups.
Volunteer opportunities in Montreal:
- Volunteer Bureau of Montreal - Find volunteering opportunities by interest, clients served and neighbourhood.
- Volunteer Centres - Find a volunteer centres around your area.
- Charity Village - Volunteer positions across Canada.
- For more volunteering organizations: Local Volunteering Organizations
Tips for those who are interested in international volunteering:
- Areas of Work: Determine whether you want to work with people (e.g. Community development, emergency and relief, education and training, health and nutrition, agriculture and farming) or with environment (e.g. Conservation, wildlife, marine conservation).
- Important Questions: Some important questions to ask when considering volunteering abroad - How much does it cost? Who offers placements? Is my program ethical? For more questions and answers about international volunteering, consult the book "Volunteer: A Traveller's Guide to Making a Difference Around the World". The book is available at CaPS.
- Program Reviews: If you are not sure which volunteer program to go with, consult this site: Volunteer Abroad Program Reviews at Volunteer Forever
International volunteering websites:
- MyWorldAbroad (Registration with your McGill email is required)
This database provides 4,000+ resources, 300+ expert articles and inspiring student stories. Visit What Do You Want To Do? -> Volunteer Abroad for a list of volunteering opportunities and useful tips.
- Peace Corps
If you are interested in working for Peace Corps, please consult the application tips and sample CVs: Agriculture, Community & Economic Development, Education, Environment, Health, Youth Development
- United Nations Online Volunteering - Online volunteering opportunities with grassroots organizations.
- Idealist.org - Volunteer positions worldwide.
- Verge Volunteer Abroad - Find a volunteer abroad program or organization.
- For more international volunteering opportunities: International Volunteering Organizations