As a young 20-something leaving university with an arts degree I wasn’t sure where to go next. I had paid my way through school with work at a coffee shop, a pita place, a bar and restaurant, and a marketing company and while I had useful skills I didn’t have a real understanding of how to use them to fill out a job application. I bounced around little jobs for a while including a stint using my marketing skills to book corporate events at Toronto Island.
Ottawa native Brittney, who just returned from a 6 month volunteer placement in Nicaragua had a similar experience. Brittney finished university at Simon Fraser University and like many graduates, she wasn’t sure that her arts degree had given her a clear career path to set out on. With an interest in Nicaragua shaped by the Human Rights courses she had taken and an interest in perfecting her Spanish, she applied for a volunteer position in Nicaragua where she could use her experience in marketing and social media communications.
Her volunteer placement was arranged through Cuso International, a non-profit development organization who help match skilled volunteers with local organizations and partners to work together on development projects in impoverished communities. Brittney worked as a Marketing and Communications Coordinator at APEN (Association of Producers and Exporters of Nicaragua), a non-profit who offer services to assist producers, exporters, and businesses in Nicaragua. She helped APEN develop a marketing plan including a strategy on how to use social media to help the country’s export groups.
Brittney has now returned to Canada with new personal and professional skills that she’ll bring to the workplace in her next post-grad role. With a newfound confidence in her own abilities and how she can contribute to the world, she’s also been inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit she witnessed while volunteering and has developed important insight into the development context in the region she worked in. And more important than that in today’s political context, Brittney says, is her knowledge and understanding of another country, its people, and its culture that she can bring back to North America.
Cuso’s International Youth Internship program, funded by Global Affairs Canada, is aimed at giving young professionals work opportunities while supporting important projects in developing countries. So far, 35 young professionals have participated! Cuso offers volunteer opportunities for Canadians of any age. A full list of opportunities is available online.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Cuso International. Opinions and envy are my own!