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How Volunteering Has Helped Me in My Job Search

Currently, I am a GEM volunteer finishing a post-graduate degree in Public Relations. This entire semester has been spent focusing on finding a summer position. How do I find the time to be in school full time, work part-time and volunteer? The answer is simple: I make time. Volunteering has not only helped me on a personal level, but it has helped me to develop skills I have used in my job search, and here is why:
It allows me to feel apart of something larger than myself. Writing resumes and cover letters all the time you start to allow yourself to think as an “I”. Not to mention all of the job interviews where you explain your strengths, your accomplishments and how you will be an integral part of an organization. While this is great and warranted, sometimes we need to take a step back and think about the bigger picture.
Networking. Through GEM I can honestly say that I have made some incredible connections and have truly learnt the value of being a part of a team. Although I am not always in the office, in fact I am only there one day a week, I never feel left out and have forced myself to be engaged in my surroundings.
How to compartmentalize. Say that three times fast. Sometimes it’s hard to sit down and focus on something when it’s unpaid and you are busy with homework, social calendars and home life. Volunteering has allowed me to pick and choose what I need to focus on in that moment, be present and put my best foot forward. This is a critical skill not only in the job hunt but once you’re in a position as well.
Spend your time volunteering for a cause you believe in. Maybe your position as a volunteer will open the door to a new job opportunity, you never know until you try.
Blog by Jamie Crawford-Ritchie. Jamie is a student at Seneca College’s Public Relations program and volunteers at GEM using her social media prowess. When she’s not at school, volunteering with GEM or working at her part-time job, she’s on social media or dreaming about going back to Disneyland.
Photo: Jamie Crawford-Ritchie, Social Media Volunteer at GEM.

March Break. Are you bored yet? Ideas to make the most of it

March Break: a much needed time off from high-school. The obvious thing to do during these 120-hours of freedom is to sleep in and relax. But in order to make the most of your March break, you have to do the most. There are little distractions, like school, homework, and extra-curricular during the break, so the opportunity is ideal for getting things done.

University/College Campus touring:  If you are going to spend more than a year at one school, it is in your best interest to tour the campus. Taking tours will also help you learn about the resources, and events available on the campuses, before you start classes. Most schools hold open houses during March break, so high school students can attend.

Catch up with the newest episodes: Normally I would never recommend binge watching TV shows due to how time consuming they can be, but for this one time, I’m making an exception. I’m sure we can all relate to being several episodes behind due to real life obligations. It’s alright if you take just one day to stay in, make some popcorn, and watch some Netflix.

Staycation: You only have one week off, so why not go and see all of the Toronto and nearby attractions that you’ve never seen. Maybe a day at Ripley’s Aquarium, or talk some friends into heading to Niagara Falls?  We all look forward to getting out of our normal routines, so make the most of it and act like a tourist in our fantastic city.

Make that Appointment: I happen to be one of those people that always puts off making appointments.  Make that doctors or dentist appointment, and while you’re at it that hair appointment too, because if we’re all being honest, those split-ends need to go.

Try A New Recipe: One of my favourite things to do is to try new recipes. Usually the outcome is worth the pain you go through. One of my favourite things to make are dessert or snacks. If you’re into really sweet, and chewy cookies, try this recipe. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/9589/chewy-coconut-cookies/

Volunteer: In case you’re not doing anything, and have time to spare, there are many places looking for volunteers. A quick Google search can find you plenty of kids’ camps and workshops, who will love the extra help. It’s also a great way to finish your 40 volunteer hours requirement for school.

Don’t forget to make time for your family and friends. March break is the perfect time to tick things off your checklist, so don’t waste a moment.

Tabassum Lakhi is a Creative Writing Intern at GEM and also a GEMgirl.

Thank you, Toronto Parapan Am Games!

As the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games have come to a close, so has my time volunteering with them during this past week.

I was lucky enough to be stationed at the Pan/Parapan Am Fields (PAF) once again, and work alongside the same group of volunteers I was with during Pan Am. It was wonderful to see all their faces and collaborate as a team a second time around!

I got the chance to see some football 5-a-side games at PAF, which I did not know much about beforehand. It is just like the football (soccer) game that would typically come to one’s mind. The exception: the athletes are visually impaired and wear blindfolds. The only members of the teams not wearing blindfolds are the goalkeepers and the team guides, who are positioned on both ends of the field and direct the players towards the target. Everyone watching the game must be absolutely silent, as the players rely on their hearing in order to hear their guides and the rattling sounds that a special ball makes during play. Even though Pan Am was over, its energy carried onto the Parapan Am Games, and I got to witness that as spectators cheered on their teams.

In all, the Toronto 2015 Games have been quite an adventure – a fun and exciting one! I am grateful for being given the opportunity to be one of the 23,000+ individuals chosen to volunteer for this historical event in Canadian and Pan/Parapan Am history.


The Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games Volunteer Experience

Recently our Creative Writing Volunteer Vanessa Mugoa had the awesome opportunity to be a volunteer at the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games and shares it with us on the Girls eMentorship Blog.

If you have not heard, the 2015 Toronto Games have been vibrantly taking over the city! I was lucky enough to be one of the 23,000+ individuals chosen to volunteer at the Pan Am Games, and I am here to share my experience with you all.

For my volunteer role at Pan Am, I was stationed at the Pan Am Fields, which is right in the heart of the University of Toronto’s St. George Campus, and also where Pan Am’s field hockey tournaments took place. I got the chance to work among a dedicated team of volunteers, and together we took on each day with tons of excitement and positivity. We also cheered on as the Canadian men’s field hockey team won silver and the women’s team won bronze in the finals. I have to say, there is something amazing about watching a crowd of proud Canadians as they cheer on their nation, and also being a part of that community.

This amazing opportunity gave me the chance to meet new people, contribute to the happening of this event, and also be a part of a great moment in our Canadian history! Even though the Pan Am Games officially had its Closing Ceremony not too long ago, I will always hold onto the many memories I made and the souvenirs I received along the way. As the 2015 Toronto Games are not over yet, I look forward to volunteering at the Parapan Am Games, which will begin August 7.


Toronto Fringe Festival: Vanessa Mugoa’s 1st Volunteer Experience with Fringe

GEM’s Creative Writing Intern, Vanessa Mugoa, recently volunteered at the Toronto Fringe Festival. We asked her to share her experience and perspective about the event and why it’s such a great arts and culture event in Toronto.

Hello all! I am back with another blog post and this time it is on Toronto’s annual, twelve-day Fringe Festival, where I also got to volunteer!

Now for a little history on the Toronto Fringe Festival! Since 1989, when Fringe was first held, it has become so popular that it is now considered Toronto’s largest theatre festival! This year, the festival featured 148 shows in 30+ venues and/or site-specific locations, with a total of more than 1,100 performances. Another cool fact about Fringe is that all the shows are chosen at random by lottery or on a first come basis, and 100% of the ticket prices are returned to the artists. Ultimately, the Fringe Festival is about giving the under-represented voices of artists an opportunity to share their works and emerge in the performing arts world!

However, Fringe is more than just a theatre festival! Many shows include elements of dance, visual arts, spoken word, and much more. As a spectator, you never know what you will possibly see at Fringe. For example, I saw a play that was performed at the Ahimsa Yoga studio downtown and it involved the audience doing yoga with the actors throughout their performance!

As a first-time Fringe volunteer and spectator this summer, the festival was a blast! It was great to meet and work with the Fringe staff and other awesome volunteers, interact with the many spectators who attended this year’s festival, as well as check out a few fresh and innovative performances myself!

Did you attend an event at the Toronto Film Festival this year? What was your favourite performance? Tell us about it!