On September 25 and 26 between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. McMaster’s Student Centre will be center stage for a plethora of organizations from across Hamilton. Nearly 75 vendors will take over the Student Centre atrium in hopes of exposing students to the need for volunteers in the Hamilton community.

This year marks the 8th annual Community Engagement and Volunteer Fair with a record-breaking number of young activists expected to turn out. Spread out over two days, the Volunteer Fair will expose students to a multitude of local agencies, from small grassroots to globally recognized organizations all hoping to team up with students to make a difference in the greater community.

The fair promises to be even larger this year, as the Student Success Centre has recently announced its collaboration with the Faculty of Social Sciences and Experiential Education.

This new partnership will give students access to a wider variety and higher volume of agencies across Hamilton. “The [Student Success Centre] has more relationships and partners in the community,” said Angela Fortino, Employer Relations Officer at the Student Success Centre. “This year the fair is full, plus we have organizations on the waiting list.”

More relationships within the community mean more opportunities for students to find the right volunteer position for them.

Students will not only have the opportunity to interact with big brand organizations such as United Way and Red Cross, but also a more diverse set of niche organizations this year.

“We get agencies that meet a particular need in the community that is pretty unique… You’re able to tap into different aspects of the community,” said Adam Kuhn, Student Success Centre Manager.

And with the Student Success Centre on board, a higher volume of students are expected to take notice and be aware of the event.

“The Student Success Centre has more retail access across campus to reach a higher volume of students,” explained Kuhn.

The Volunteer Fair is essentially a mass-networking project with a dual focus. It gives students a means of networking with volunteer organizations, and it allows local agencies a means of recruiting essential volunteers through a single, two-day event.

Volunteering is one means of expanding your professional Rolodex as a student, simply by means of networking. It’s is also a good way of establishing credibility and rapport, which can potentially act as leverage into a full time position. Students can use volunteer positions to build their resumes, linking their volunteer work to their field of academic study, and potential future occupation.

“[Volunteering] can affirm your career goals and passions or it can challenge your assumptions,” noted Kuhn on the benefits of volunteering.

The Volunteer Fair presents an opportunity for students to connect with a diverse range of local agencies in hopes of finding the right niche regardless of passion, career goal, or area of interest.

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