Volunteer without being voluntold

Why not round out your resume and do some good this summer?

Image courtesy of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence

By: Alannah Wallace 

There’s a million reasons to volunteer, whether it’s to round out your resume, give back to your community, make a difference, meet new people, or do some good this summer. Here are some options for busy students.


On campus

Food Rescue Volunteer (for more see MyInvolvement, ID 4493)

Embark Sustainability is looking for people to help find food that grocery stores don’t deem perfect enough to sell and redistribute it to the university community. This will involve taking care of the program materials, picking up food items from grocery store bins, managing the food table in Blusson Hall, and the clean-up of these events. Volunteers will need to be available for two hours a week on Thursdays for the entire summer semester. This is a great way to get involved with the university and help the environment by reducing waste!


Learning and Writing Peer Educator (for more info see MyInvolvement, ID 4308)

Do you have a knack for writing? You should share this knack, since writing is a daunting task for many people. The Student Learning Commons is looking for peer educators to help other students improve their writing. They provide training to teach Learning and Writing Peer Educators how to help clients improve their writings during one-on-one advising sessions that clients book. You will need to spend 60–72 hours volunteering per semester, and they ask that you commit to at least two semesters. This would be great if you are going to apply for grad schools, or go into teaching. This type of experience would show that you can teach, that you are a well-trained writer, and that you are involved in the community, which graduate programs (and even award committees!) will likely value.

(Note: there are many other peer education programs on campus to explore if writing isn’t your cup of tea).


Autism Mentorship Initiative (for more info see MyInvolvement, ID 4472)

The Autism Mentorship Initiative is a way to help SFU students with autism feel more comfortable participating in university life. Mentors will help mentees feel included on campus, find opportunities to engage with the community, and overall succeed in university. You will be assigned a mentee (they prefer you commit to volunteering for at least two semesters) although a match is not guaranteed right away. You will meet with your mentee weekly, and work on issues that the mentee needs help them feel welcome on campus.


Off Campus

The Shadbolt Center : Volunteer Arts Program Assistant

This is a good option for starving artists who want to make sure they have experience teaching as a backup plan. Getting paid to be a full-time painter or dancer is hard, but teaching your passion can be just as rewarding, and it’s a steady paycheque. Getting one of these teaching positions after graduation can be really competitive, but one way to stand out is by having experience helping in a class, especially at the place you may want to work in the future. Teachers are usually happy to have someone to help in the class; it can be hard to sort out arts and crafts alone for 15 little kids! You can contact the Fine and Performing Arts Programmer for more details.


GoodLife Fitness

GoodLife gym is that huge, kind of fancy gym you always see commercials about. On a student budget, it can be hard to commit to a one or two-year contract of around $60 a month, but the gym offers lots of ways that students can volunteer to get a free monthly pass. For just two hours of volunteering at the gym a week, you can obtain a monthly pass. Some tasks involve some light cleaning such as wiping down exercise bikes, or helping out in the daycare the gym has for parents who are working out. This is a great way to save as a student while still staying healthy! Drop into a location with a resume and ask to speak to someone about a volunteering position.



Have you ever dreamed of having a farm of animals but barely have enough space for just yourself in your dorm room? Well, there is a way for you to have it all! Volunteer at the local SPCA to get your animal fix. You can volunteer to transport animals to their appointments, make sure they get enough exercise, and help keep their living quarters clean and comfortable. Just make sure you are okay with handling all sorts of animal personality types and smelling all types of smells. If you want to help but don’t think you have great animal handling skills, you can also volunteer to be part of their community outreach program to work on gaining more support, or be part of the fundraiser team (it’s one to two hours a week, and can often be done from home)!  


School Classrooms

If you are considering becoming an elementary or high school teacher, you will need some type of volunteering experience with children to make your application to the Professional Development Program (PDP) strong. When I was thinking about becoming a teacher, everyone told me that the best volunteer experience to have was in an actual classroom. You can shadow the teacher, and help out in the classroom. In preparation for the class, the teachers often let you teach a mini-lesson and give you feedback on your teaching style. You can call a school you are interested in and explain that you are prepping for the PDP program and most teachers will be happy to take you on. You should plan on volunteering at least one day a week.