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Build experience through volunteering

Updated June 13, 2022

By Samantha Lizardo

People planting flowers
Photo by NeONBRAND from Unsplash.com

Volunteering is a great way to get practical experience in your field of interest while getting involved in the community. These experiences are just as valuable and applicable as paid work experiences when you can effectively communicate them to potential employers.

Here are a few ways to take a volunteer experience to the next level:

Work with causes that match your values and interests

Explore organizations and work with community initiatives that match your values and interests to make the most of a volunteer experience. When your learning goals match an organization’s goals, you’ll both benefit from the experience. You can also build relationships with others who share common interests and values as you.

Identify the competencies you developed during your experience

Competencies are knowledge, skills or qualities that you’ve developed during an experience such as collaboration, project management or advocacy. Reflect on examples during your experience of when you demonstrated a certain competency, what the results of using this competency were and how it may be related to your program of study or interests. You can share these examples in your resume, cover letter and interviews.

Use accomplishment statements to make your experiences stand out

Accomplishment statements are bullet points in your resume that clearly describe your experience and competencies. They effectively communicate to employers, not only what you did, but also the impact and purpose of your actions. For example, someone who was a marketing volunteer for a music charity may write an accomplishment statement like this,

  • Promoted five outreach sessions on music therapy attended by an average of 20 students, a 30% increase from the prior year’s attendance rate

For more tips on writing effective resumes and cover letters, check out resume and cover letter resources from Career Exploration & Education.

Places to get volunteer experience

The Centre for Community Partnerships hosts a variety of programs that allow you to engage with community.

Connect with local organizations while completing coursework in Community Engaged Learning Courses. For long-term volunteer opportunities outside of coursework, check out Community Action Projects.

To explore more volunteer opportunities, check out the following websites: