Ideas for Volunteering in Ontario

In Ontario, there is a mandatory requirement for high school students to complete 40 hours of volunteer work, but figuring out where to start can be challenging. Here are three quick ideas to help you kick off your volunteering journey:

  1. Explore Online Opportunities: There are numerous online platforms where you can apply for volunteer positions, including opportunities for remote work. One recommended site for those in Toronto is Volunteer Toronto, a comprehensive volunteer board. Additionally, try using job search platforms like by entering keywords like “volunteer” to discover potential positions.
  2. Look Within Your School: Don’t hesitate to inquire within your own school community. Many opportunities may be available within the school premises, such as assisting in the library, collaborating with teachers, coaches, or librarians. Often, these activities can be completed during lunch hours, providing convenient options for fulfilling your volunteer hours.
  3. Reconnect with Your Previous Schools: Consider reaching out to your former middle school and elementary school. Existing relationships can facilitate the process of acquiring volunteer hours. Building on connections you already have can open up opportunities that align with your interests and skills.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of your personal network. Reach out to family and friends; you might be surprised by the connections they have. This experience teaches a valuable lesson about the importance of networking for success. Continue to nurture these connections as they may prove beneficial in unexpected ways. If you have additional advice, feel free to share it in the comments. Best of luck with your volunteering journey!

My experience with getting RGD certification

First of all, here is the link to start RGD Certification.

Starting out with Provisional Membership

Before applying for the full certification, I apply for Provisional Membership, which is a step before the full certification. I applied online and then waited a bit before contacting a Portfolio Reviewer for a virtual meeting.

My reviewer, Nadine Kuhlkamp, was amazing and took the time to help me understand the process, gave me advice, and was lovely to talk to. I was a bit nervous and wary because I did not graduate with a degree in graphic design, fine arts, or any similar degree. I was a business major. However, RGD recognizes that people can enter the field of graphic design through different paths and be from different degree backgrounds.

I then got approval for the provisional membership and started paying member dues far less than the full membership. During this time, the pandemic was in full swing, and what I found wonderful was the compassion that RGD showed and provided financial relief to those who were facing hardship. Discounts are also given on resources for provisional members.

The steps are as summarized:

  • Apply online.
  • Then, you will be asked to complete a form to identify preferences for your Portfolio Reviewer (required as part of the Membership).
  • We will contact you to put you in touch with your Portfolio Reviewer. It can take some time to identify a reviewer.
  • Reviews can take place virtually or in person, depending on your location, areas of interest and availability of Reviewers.

Trials and Tribulations on obtaining Full membership/certification

First thing first you have to at least 7 years experience which can include 2-4 years of schooling. Applying to be a full member is a whole different ballpark. There are more hurdles and more scrutiny than the provisional membership. The steps are as summarized:

  • Apply to determine eligibility.
  • Take an open-book, multiple-choice, 80-minute Online Test.
  • Present 6 pieces of your work virtually to 3 senior practitioners over 30 minutes.
  • Receive your results and join RGD.

It took over a year for me to even pass the first step. My major hurdle was getting my application in an acceptable state. I applied two times and was rejected twice due to the quality of my answers and work samples. Zaria Pucknell was the one who reviewed the application, and she was kind and helpful each time. It definitely made the sting of rejection hurt way less.

I then applied for a mentorship as I was finally in the time period to apply for one. I knew I needed help, badly. I was then paired with Yunwen Zhu. Who, I have to say, was so amazing! There are several sessions with your mentor to help get your portfolio in shape, give advice, and for anything else. She definitely helped me improve as a graphic designer in just two sessions, improve myself and my mindset, and, in general, made me smile and laugh!

I then submitted my application for a third time with fingers and toes crossed…

I then heard that I was finally eligible! Third time is a charm?

Taking the Test

First, here is the link for an overview on the test portion. For preparation they do provide e-copies of the texts to help as listed, and they you can order the books. I brought them to support the organization and of course the tests are based on them.

I took the test online, and of course there were instructions on what to do before hand and during the test. Such as testing your webcam and connection etc. I was able to pass every section expect the research. In the event that you fail a section you are allow to retake it. Which, I did and then I finally pass.

Presenting my work

Portfolios are presented for 30 minutes to 3 RGD Reviewers, in my presentation I had a fourth observing member, and of course a impartial person to oversee the process. You are presenting the same six pieces that you submitted in your application. You will have to choose one piece to go in depth.

Here is a link to what they are evaluating on.

The best tips I got from my mentor and others, is to keep a consistent look to your presentation, have HQ pictures, and of course practice. My experience was great, the reviewers were all kind and of course I got results. I know I didn’t do to stellar, but nonetheless I passed and the feedback was invaluable.

The end of a long journey

I finally pass all the steps and I am now certified! I got my virtual membership, and will be getting the stickers and welcome package later. I hope to become a better designer in the future.

I hope that was helpful in any capacity! If you have questions, feel free to ask! Thank you for reading if you got this far!

The Top AI Programs Right Now (2023)

AI is progressing at a scary rate. I’ve never thought it would reach to the level it is now, but we may not be far from having an AI that can interact with us on a Human level or even better.

Here are the current hottest AI Programs to use right now by category:



This company has blown up due to how good it is. Companies right now are following them in their footsteps. Simply write a prompt and then it generates a response. You can refine through further prompting. It is predicted future job is writing prompts, who knows where we’ll go. Right now it is free, but there is a waitlist. There is also a premium option.

Personally, I love ChatGPT. It helps me save mental anguish, pain, frustration and road blocks when it comes to writing.


Google’s chatbot! Similar to ChatGPT it works through prompts too, however it is not available in every country.


It checks your grammar, paraphrases and fluency. When paired with a Chat Bot it makes writing far more efficient.



It is not easy to use, you will have to sign up for Discord, and everyone can see what you are promoting. That is a two edge sword. There may be things you don’t want others to see. However, seeing what people are creating helps you become a better creator.


Much easier to use than Midjourney. You can prompt the AI to create images. You have to be very specific in your prompts. There is a waitlist, but I prefer this over Midjourney for ease of use.


They do have an AI component that is pretty great but is kind of buried. Canva, though, I think is great to have in your toolbox. They have so many templates, images, etc., that have made me much more efficient.



I like this as it immediately allows you to play with it intuitively. Also, if you have a screen recording program like OBS, you can rip the audio without creating an account.


They have a free option with presets like Boomy.



Think of those training videos where a person talks to you on the screen. This is what they specialize in. It is very corporate but very good. It’s not free, but it does save money for companies who are looking for this type of style.


If you are on social media, especially TikTok, you have run into this program. They have so many templates to create different styles and types of videos it amazes me how good it looks.

I look forward to seeing how AI grows and how I can incorporate them into my life.

What to do when working with an International Photographer

*Note: This is my anonymous interview with a friend.

Here are some top things I wish I had known before working with an International Vendor. We hired a wedding photographer in another country, which is our experience.

Define the terms of the contract clearly – Especially the Currency

What happened to me was that I didn’t specify what currency we were paying in. It caused a bit of an argument when we wanted to pay USD as it would save us money vs paying in Euros. It caused tension in the relationship, and I wish I had nipped in the bud way earlier.

Get someone local if you can – or start studying the local culture deeply

Although we hired an international photographer, where we were shooting isn’t their home country. They just live close and could drive there. I thought they would have at least looked up the local culture and customs, but they didn’t. They directed us to do certain poses and actions that were not in line with the local custom and were offensive. This is a general good rule thumb to do when you are travelling.

Have your own vision

The photographer might have their own vision or storyboard. You can ask about their process, and understand how much you need to prepare. I wish we looked up places where we would like to take photos at, and what we wanted to do.

Look up the International Holidays

This should have been a non brainer but it totally slipped our mines. A lot of rentals were closed (Do this ahead of time if you can), and locations were too. Which was a bummer.

I hope these few tips helped! Have a wonderful week!

5 Tips on How to prepare for an interview

Although I don’t ace every interview I am in. There are a few tricks and tips I’ve picked up over the years that have made it into my interview preparation.

First: Take the job posting and create interview questions based on it

The job description gives you precisely what they are looking for. Most likely, they will ask questions based on it. Roughly 70% of the interview will consist of these types of questions. You can use google to look for questions based on skills, scenarios using those skills, etc. This has helped me anticipate what they might ask.

Second: Use Mock Interviews

There are videos on YouTube which put you in a sort of simulation. I found them helpful in getting used to the interview process and practice. Here are my favourite ones:

Third: Ask someone to roleplay with you.

It can be very helpful if you have someone willing to roleplay an interview. They can ask curve balls, interact with you more fully, and give you feedback.

Fourth: Have prepared answers for the “out of the box” or personal questions

You don’t have to practice these over and over again, but you should have an answer. These questions should always end with how it connects to the job. Here are the ones I’ve come across in real life and online:

  • What superpower would you have?
  • What books are you reading?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • Why is a manhole a circle?
  • What would you wish for if you had 3 wishes?
  • What are your hobbies?

Fifth: Bring a portfolio

This tip works better for creative industries, especially if you are starting your career. I have impressed interviewers by bringing in samples of my work. However, I still think it would be great for non-creative jobs too. You can take pictures of job sites if you are in construction, awards you’ve won in your profession, products you’ve designed, etc.

I wish you good luck in your job search!

What Rewards Do You Get For Being A Google Guide?

*Note: There are no criteria to get these rewards or perks. They are given and random and can be taken away. Generally, the more active and levels you get, the more likely you’ll be offered a reward. Please ensure you safelist Google Guides emails, as some people miss them.

“Fixed” Rewards

Fixed Rewards, I consider, are rewards that are given out consistently.

Google Socks:
These are the most coveted among Google Guides. However, there are three different designs, and you won’t be guaranteed to get the one you want. They are pretty cute, I must say!
Enamel Pin:
These are the newest addition, and I love the little guy. Google Guides have made this into Jewelry, key rings, etc. A more durable reward.
Tote Bag:
Subtle design and practical. This is the least popular choice for a reward I’ve seen.
Google Rewards


These are some of the perks given out over the years that I know of. These change on a dime, so don’t expect them. However, it indicates that Google recognizes the hard work Google Guides do for free.

  • 10%-15% off Google Products
  • USD 7 reward for the Google App Store and Books
  • Free Trials and Sneak Peeks
  • Google Badges

Exclusive: Invitation to Connect Live

I decided to separate because not everyone can get it. It is based on contributions in the google forum, activity, application and video submission. Google will fly you out to it to participate. Here are Oscar Kwak’s Tips and Experience on it.

I hope that helps! Let me know if I missed anything.

My Experience as a Volunteer at the TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival)

In 2022 after the pandemic, I decided I wanted to volunteer in an arts and culture capacity. What is one of the most influential arts and culture events in the GTA? It’s TIFF. Here I will put my experience, tips and advice.

First, here is my proof:

Where and When to apply

The TIFF festival typically happens in early to mid-September. Applying a couple of months in advance is recommended as they do have orientation/training before.


The application was easy, and I applied back in late July. I was quickly accepted and sent material to help me prepare.

I will say one thing. Volunteering at TIFF means you will STAND a lot. If you cannot stand for long periods, reconsider signing up. TIFF does make accommodations; you can check with them. However, there are a few positions where one can sit.


Yay, you got accepted! TIFF is on top of sending their volunteer material, such as the volunteer booklet, training, etc. One of the things I highly suggest you take time to consider is WHERE YOU WANT TO VOLUNTEER. In 2022 these were the volunteer locations and my thoughts and tips.


Roy Thomson Hall
Chance to see celebrities (Fanzone/Red Carpet). Tip: if you select this location. If they ask, “Does anyone have a loud voice and have to problem telling people what to do?” Say yes! Chances are they will put you near the Red Carpet to tell people to move away.

Royal Alexandra Theatre
– Chance to see celebrities (Fanzone/Red Carpet). Tip: if you select this location. If they ask, “Does anyone have a loud voice and have to problem telling people what to do?” Say yes! Chances are they will put you near the Red Carpet to tell people to move away.

-Highly inaccessible. If you hate walking upstairs, don’t go to this location.

– They tell you to go around the back if you miss orientation and don’t know where to go to the volunteer lounge. They don’t mean around the building but instead go down Duncan street, then turn on Pearl and get to the back of the building.

Princess of Wales Theatre
Chance to see celebrities (Fanzone/Red Carpet). Tip: if you select this location. If they ask, “Does anyone have a loud voice and have to problem telling people what to do?” Say yes! Chances are they will put you near the Red Carpet to tell people to move away.

Cinesphere – Ontario Place
One of the furthest away from transit in the downtown core. There is a lovely waterfront, so if you want to explore that area, you can choose this location.

Scotiabank Theatre
If your goal is to watch movies, this is the location I would sign up for. They have the most screenings and have a specific position called Usher, where they will put you in the theatre. Lots of downtimes, especially in the morning. You can talk to your fellow volunteers the most here.

TIFF Bell Lightbox
This is also where a lot of press will be. If you are into marketing, you can select this place.

Glenn Gould Studio
This year it held workshops and panels. If you are lucky, you can sit in on those. Very few volunteers get to go here.

Industry Centre at the Hyatt Regency Hotel
If you want a behind scene look at the press industry, this is the place you want to be. They have highly specialized roles and will require a minimum of shifts, so be aware. You can’t hop around to other locations.

Office Support
They have highly specialized roles and will require a minimum of shifts, so be aware. You can’t hop around to other locations.

Airport Greeter
You will need to have reliable transport to get the Pearson Airport. A limited number of people and you will be standing for long periods.

Festival Street
You have to be outgoing and okay with talking to many people. Rain or shine, you must be okay working in any weather condition.

Events Support
TIFF holds special events at various locations. If you want a chance to see stars, industry people, etc., choose this one. There is mandatory training for this specific role.

Ace volunteer
If you can’t decide where you want to go, choose his position. You are a floater who will be sent to various locations.

What to Bring

  • Water Bottle: You will get thirsty, and they do not provide any.
  • Bum Bag/Fanny Pack: You want your items on you because they could get stolen.
  • Charger: They don’t provide one, and there are few places to charge your phone. Your shifts will be a minimum of four hours, so be prepared.
  • Additional Shirt: You want to change out of the volunteer uniform when you aren’t on shift, or you will get bothered. I wore a different shirt underneath, others had a light jacket.


There are the following positions available that I am aware of.

  • Usher: Will be in the movie theatre to ensure no illegal activities are happening, helping people find seats, and other activities.
  • Clicker: You will be outside of the theatre, counting the number of people going into the theatre.
  • Readmittance: There will be people leaving the theatre, and to ensure you aren’t double counting anyone, you will give them a ticket or token. They will give it back when they return.
  • Scanner: You will scan people’s tickets for entrance.
  • Line Management: You will help people find the line, direct them, and guide them.
  • Wayfinder: You have to be able to read the fine print as you will be letting people know what movies are playing and giving directions.
  • Admin: Helping with menial administrative tasks.
  • Flyer Distributor: You will be giving out materials, such as tickets, flyers etc, to people on the street.

VACCT Awards

The Volunteer Award for Arts and Culture in Toronto (VAACT) is a program that recognizes volunteers who contribute their time to multiple arts and culture organizations throughout the year in the city of Toronto. The program ends yearly with an awards ceremony for VAACT participants, scheduled on International Volunteer Day (December 5, 2022). For more information, please visit

Here’s my recommendation. Do you read this in January or November, haven’t volunteered at any of the organizations yet, and want the VAACT award? Your timing is lucky.

The minimum requirements are the following:

  • You have to volunteer with three organizations recognized by the VAACT
  • You have to complete their minimum volunteer shifts
  • You have to volunteer within their term, which runs from November to October of that year

I suggest you choose three organizations ahead of them and apply. Early as possible.

These are the organizations:

• Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival
• Arts in the Parks
• Luminato Festival
• Pride Toronto
• The Toronto Fringe Festival
• Toronto International Film Festival
• imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival
• Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival
• Harbourfront Centre

I only have done TIFF and imagineNative and couldn’t be eligible since I only volunteered in September and Oct. I wanted to do Reel Asian, but they run in November, thus does not count towards VAACT.

My Experience at TIFF

Finally, after all the tips and advice from my personal experience. I enjoyed it! There was lots of variety and things to do and see. The captains were awesome! Everyone there was amazing. I got to usher for some movies, saw some celebrities, and loved interacting with the festival goers. If you have any questions, let me know!

How To Up Your LinkedIn Game? 2022

LinkedIn is one of the best ways to find jobs. Recruiters often go on to search and find candidates. Here are some ways to make your profile stand out.

Your Job Title

This one is obvious. Recruiters will be looking for specific job titles. Your title may be close but not close enough. Try to negotiate by adding a word to improve your findability—words such as Senior and Digital. The list goes on, but the more you can add to it to make it specific will help. If you have no idea what title you should have, you can look through the LinkedIn Jobs section, find similar people, or even ask people around you. Another resource is Payscale Career Path Planner, which helps you know the next step and job title. Then you know what to ask for in your next job.

Featured Works

If you have a portfolio, won awards, or as part of a high-profile project. Post about it and then feature that post. It gives the recruiter a quick way to see your best hits. Don’t worry if you don’t! Here are some ideas for marketing and graphic portfolio if you have nothing.

Name pronunciation

LinkedIn has a feature where you can do an audio recording on the pronunciation of your name. It helps recruiters pronounce it correctly. It also gives you personality and helps put a voice in the photo. Bonus, you can also add your pronouns if you feel like it.

Join Groups/Interest

LinkedIn will put “You are both in the same group” or similar—giving something different to our account when recruiters look through search results.

Change your Banner

Add some personality to your account. You can quickly get custom banners at and search for LinkedIn Banner. I would advise getting one with more imagery on the right side as your profile circle is on the right. Please stay away from people in your banner. Let it focus on words, imagery, awards, or the like to help you stand out.

Happy creating! Good Luck with your career growth and development.

How to Use the Star Shape Tool in Adobe Illustrator

1. Click on the star tool on the side menu. You can click on the small triangle to open up more options.

2. Then click and drag on the artboard. The default shape is a star.

3. To add more points, while you are clicking and to drag the default star, press the up arrow ↑. If you click the down arrow ↓, fewer points will appear.

4. To change the distance of the inner points to the endpoints. When you are clicking and dragging, press CTRL simultaneously, move your mouse towards for a small distance or away for a pointer star.

You can use the star tool to create many different shapes cleanly.

Note: If you have other Adobe programs such as Photoshop and Indesign, you can copy and paste these shapes into there.

Hope that helps! Happy creating.

Tips for University Students in Graphic Design or Marketing

Setting yourself up for success in school is difficult. No one talks about it in high school or university. However, the internet is an excellent resource to help steer you in the correct direction. Here are my four top tips to help you do just that.

Get an Internship, Co-op, or Work Study

When choosing a university, many consider it obvious to look at who offers the best program for their desired major, such as the best teachers, equipment, facilities, etc. However, many fail to consider choosing a university if they have an internship, co-op, or work-study for their major. I think this is a significant consideration. Getting experience early is critical in building up your resume and your expertise.

Bonus, you will make some extra money and get a reference. A tip is to look at the internship/co-op/work-study requirements. I had to be a third-year student at my school, have a certain grade average, and take specific courses. It varies, of course, but you need to keep that in mind to qualify.

Some may argue you can get one outside of school. You can, of course! However, there are extra benefits. The schools have agreements with these companies that often have to fill those positions with students from a specific school. Your odds of getting that position increases significantly. They also sometimes offer help in interviewing and writing resumes and cover letters. Either way, you need to build up experience.

Start a Portfolio

This may be common sense, but it bears repeating. I would advocate having a physical and online portfolio if possible. There are many free websites you can take advantage of. Such as Google websites, Wix, and more. Here is where you can brand yourself, set yourself apart from others, look professional, and get experience building websites.

You may find yourself lacking projects. My answer, make fake ones. There are a lot of great ideas online for fake portfolio ideas. However, make sure it relates to your industry. Building a body of work will take time, but it is well worth it.

Start social media.

This is an easy and cost-effective method to get your name out there. Again, it’s building your brand as a secondary way to show your portfolio and participate in the community.

Another benefit is that you will become familiar with social media management. This is a skill many companies are looking for in regard to marketing.

Join a reputable registered group/certification

There are many organizations out there that offer certification. Bonus, they often offer a reduced price for students. Many companies specify a destination or certification for their candidates. Go on Linkedin, indeed or another job board and search for what kind they are looking for.

One I recommend for graphic designers, specifically in Canada, is RGD –

It will be a boon for your professional if you can get it. It will increase your prestige and validate your experience and skills, and you again can connect with like-minded individuals.

Volunteer (Optional)

This one is optional because I understand not everyone can pursue it due to financial situations. This is a way to build experience, a portfolio, and a network. I would recommend trying to find a contract or project-based position. Short-term is better, allowing you to make a clean break.

These are my top tips. If there are any I’m missing, let me know below. I wish you all the luck in your future development.

MSP Business School – Enabling Sales Success by Driving Action (Guest Feature)

I had a great time at MSP Business School. In episode 68, Paul Schroeder and I share excellent suggestions on incentivizing your sales team to increase revenue and how ChannelAssist Inc helps companies create these programs.

Listen at the Website or Listen Below!

Follow MSP Business School Podcast at:

A podcast geared to Technology Service Providers where we bring you strategies and tactics to grow your business and build a winning culture. I love their podcast and the dynamic between the hosts is great!

Follow the Hosts at their LinkedIn:

Additional Resources at:

Shakepay Paddle Badges

Shakepay an app that allows Canadians to buy and share Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) easily. They currently have a waitlist for their VISA credit card. There are no details on it right now, but what’s happening is Shakepay has made it a sort of waitlist game. People jockey with others to get higher on the waitlist by doing their daily shake to earn bitcoin (7 pts) and swapping $5 with each other (69 pts).

Shakepay has rewarded users with badges beside their names to reach certain conditions. There are purely cosmetic and have no value or benefit in Shakepay. Here are the badges released so far and what the condition was to get them. Correct me if I am wrong and let me know if I’m missing any!

ImagePaddle NameCondition
ShakepongShakepay ($5) to @shakepong. It’s a bot that sends $5 back from Shakepay!
RegularShakepay 5 unique friends.
SilverShakepay 15 unique friends.
BronzeShakepay 25 unique friends.
GoldShakepay 50 unique friends.
PlatinumShakepay 100 unique friends.
DiamondShakepay 500 unique friends.
PlaidOnly the bot shakepay has this paddle.
TreeDonating $5 Earth Day, April 2021 for charity.
HatDonating $5 for Raising the Roof fundraiser (homelessness)

If you want to get these paddles and it seems a bit out of reach. Join the Shakepay Discord! Remember to swap responsibly as Shakepay is not responsible for any money you send out.

Last Updated May 2021.