Rheign Morales is in her senior year in high school and has been a committed member of the YMCA since the age of 13. She started off as a mentor for NYLD where she assisted newcomer youth in their integration in the community. Currently, she is a mentor for Next Stop Canada and a YMCA staff member.
For high school students, the months leading up to summer break are always a little stressful and nerve-wracking. School projects, commitments, and extracurriculars pile up, while employers start to hire for the coming months. As a student myself, I know how difficult it is to secure a summer job while knee-deep in school work. Plus, many summer employers want people with experience — which youth can have trouble getting.
One of the best ways to gain experience to get a summer job is volunteering. I started volunteering for the Newcomer Youth Leadership Development Program when I was 13. For three years, I volunteered as a mentor of the program where I developed skills like public speaking, facilitation, leadership, and organization — all of which I am now very thankful for as they help me in school, at work, at social events, and much more.
When I started, I was unaware of the benefits of volunteering other than the obvious fact that 40 hours of community involvement is necessary to graduate high school in Ontario. But I soon realized that volunteering lets you contribute so much to your community while also gathering essential skills you need to be job ready. Through volunteering, I was able to lead workshops and events hosted by the YMCA, and continue my passion to give back to my newcomer community. After mentoring for the NYLD program, I took part in several committees within the YMCA, which help me make the connections I needed to get a job. I am currently working at the YMCA, and I also volunteer for the YPALS program.
So where do you start? Explore your community! There are many different organizations that need your help, including the YMCA. You can also visit your guidance office at school and ask about volunteer opportunities specific to the experience that you need.
Volunteering is a great way to gain experience and make your mark on your community. It can be a crucial tool to get your dream job and will ultimately help you become a well-rounded applicant.