Community Engagement and Volunteerism

Hello McMaster students!

The Experiential Programs Office in the Student Success Centre (SSC) is pleased to present a series of Experiential Learning posts in collaboration with the “Pop The Bubble” blog. Every month, we will feature a post relating to the services and events offered by the SSC and/or other campus and community partners. Each post will focus on how various services and events facilitate personal and career development. This month, the topic is Volunteerism.

Welcome to the new academic year, and welcome to McMaster! The start of a new school year means getting back into the swing of things with academics, recreation, co-curricular and extracurricular activities. Volunteering is one of those co-curricular or extra-curricular activities that is an essential aspect of a well-balanced student life.

Why volunteer?

Volunteering has mutual benefits: facilitating personal growth in the volunteer while also catalyzing positive change in the community. Look for ways you can fulfill your passion while serving the community.  In addition to these two benefits, there are several others. This post explores how volunteering can help you develop your employability skills.


Here are the top 3 ways volunteering can help you get started on your career:

  1. Networking – Volunteering is a great way to expand your personal and professional networks. Maintain positive relations with your coworkers, organization staff and the clients. If you have a career-related volunteer placement, start an informal career mentoring relationship with your supervisor to learn more about their career trajectories and how to get there. You never know the types of opportunities your placement may open up!
  1. Résumé Building – Volunteering can substitute workplace experience. Depending on the type of volunteer placement, you can gain experience in diverse fields such as event planning, risk management, or teaching, to list a few. Volunteering demonstrates your time management abilities and personal interests to potential employers, helping you set yourself apart from competition.
  1. Employability Skills – Students are able to develop skills (such as interpersonal and collaboration skills), understanding, and personal attributes as a result of volunteering experience. Through work-related volunteer placements, students are able to demonstrate their talents to potential employers, helping them get closer to paid employment. In addition, volunteering helps improve job prospects upon graduation (Smith et al. 2014).

A recent survey of over 4,000 university students in five countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA) found career-related motives to be one of the main reasons that students in all five countries chose to volunteer (Smith et al. 2010).

For more information on how volunteering can help boost your career, check out this post from Volunteer Alberta.

Here’s a list of volunteer resources and programs at McMaster University:

  1. Community Engagement and Volunteer Fair – Tuesday, September 23rd.
  2. On-Campus volunteering opportunities
    1. MSU Clubs – use Clubza to find a club that matches your interest
    2. Community Volunteer Action (CVA)
    3. Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) McMaster
  3. Resources at the Student Success Center (SSC)
    1. Volunteer Connections Unit
      1. Step 1: Complete the Volunteer Connections Form
      2. Step 2: Book an appointment on OSCARplus
  1. Volunteering opportunities at the SSC
  2. Service-Learning opportunities at the SSC (MacServe)
  3. Off-campus Volunteering Opportunities
    1. Check out the Volunteer Hamilton Database


Smith, Karen A., and Leonie Binney. Event Volunteering International Perspectives on the Event Volunteering Experience. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis, 2014. Print.