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Volunteer fair can help Kelowna job seekers find work

Jin Park found her first paid contract by working at Kelowna Community Resources as a volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to build up a résumé and get one
Jin Park found her first paid contract by working at Kelowna Community Resources as a volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to build up a résumé and get one's foot in the door with a prospective employer.
— image credit: Jennifer Smith

Volunteerism creates new job opportunities and Jin Park can prove it.

Before she ever graduated from her master’s program, Library and Information Studies at McGill University, she had built the connection that would find her a first contract and a voice in an industry where she hopes her career will flourish.

"It was for me a journey to find what kind of function I am good at and how I can relate that to the study I have done and what I have a passion for," she said.

Park works for Kelowna Community Resources developing web-related strategies and techniques to help social service providers and clients connect. And as luck would have it, she was initially a client herself.

While job hunting, Park approached the UBCO Okanagan Learning Exchange manager, Phil Bond, to suss out volunteer employment opportunities that might help her home in on a career path.

"I talked to him about my passion for knowledge and management and volunteerism and he connected me with Dawn Wilkinson at Kelowna Community Resources," she explained.

Wilkinson heads an Okanagan-wide volunteer fair with a string of opportunities that might have been a fantastic fit for Park; but rather than send her to the fair, Bond and Wilkinson snapped her up to work on the organizing committee for the event itself.

In his spare time, Bond also volunteers on the organizing committee for the fair and knew the group could use the kind of technical expertise Park would bring.

"It was a win-win," said Wilkinson. "With Jin's commitment to volunteerism and her ability to help us build presentations and social media campaigns, we knew she could really further our efforts to help people like her find the ideal volunteer job."

The relationship didn't stop there. Within short order, Park used those same research skills she developed in school to find her own funding through a federal grant program designed to help recent graduates land a position in the not-for-profit world.

With funding in hand, she created a paid position for herself at Kelowna Community Resources and, in the year and a half since she and Wilkinson met, has helped bring both the fair and the organization out into the community even more with a social media presence.

All in all, the experience has helped Park develop the confidence she needs to really commit to her new profession.

"The volunteer opportunity was quite unstructured and I had a chance to try things out. Combined with the knowledge I gained in school, I really found out that this is what I want to do," she said.

Park's handiwork will be on display in a PowerPoint presentation at the Kelowna Community Resources Okanagan Volunteer Fair this Saturday, Sept. 8.

The fair is held at Parkinson Recreation Centre, 1800 Parkinson Way, running from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is open to anyone and everyone to come and find a volunteer opportunity that fits.

If you are looking for paid employment, volunteerism is a great way to build a résumé and get a foot in the door.

If you are looking to volunteer in order to meet new people, contribute to a worthy cause or find an new enjoyable way to spend the day, there are plenty of options to choose from as well.

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