With the holidays fast approaching I thought this would be a great time to address the subject of volunteerism. Volunteering is rewarding on many levels. On the personal level it provides an opportunity to pursue areas of interest and to help others.
On the professional level volunteering allows those of us who are more experienced to give back to our professional communities. But the real value from the professional point of view is access to tremendous networking opportunities with potentially unlimited possibilities. Lets see how volunteering can have a huge impact on your career.
My wife and I have always been very active volunteers. As our children were growing up, we were involved in numerous child related events from youth sports to theatre to various school events. When you’re working the snack bar with ten other parents at a youth football game the networking potential is unlimited. You could be flipping burgers with the school district superintendent, a CEO, a congressman, a state assemblyman, a doctor, lawyer, or engineer (I’ve volunteered with each of these).
Relationships that develop in these situations often result in opportunities that can be professional or personal in nature. Both my wife and I have benefited from numerous opportunities that resulted from various volunteer experiences.
I’ve personally experienced three areas of volunteering. I’ve volunteered in professional groups, community groups, and in “not for pay” positions within professional organizations. The following is a brief look at each:
- Professional Groups – All professions have associated professional groups. I was very active in the San Diego Chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI). Through the people I met there I got the opportunity to write and publish my first book. I also had the opportunity to start my first company and learn how to teach as a professional. I served on the board as the VP of Professional Development. The Board position allowed me to travel and to meet various people within the global PMI organization. I am where I am today in large part because of the people I met at PMI-SD.
- Community Groups – Living in a small town (less than 60,000 people) allows everyone the opportunity to interact with the leaders of the community. Volunteering at community events has allowed my wife and I to develop relationships with many of the leaders in our community. Working with the Chamber of Commerce, Optimists, and Stadium Association has allowed us to develop relationships that have resulted in many opportunities for us both. In addition we’ve experienced the reward of giving back and making a contribution to the community while meeting really great people.
- “Not for Pay” Professional Opportunities – My career has taken me from mechanical engineer to project manager to program manager to where I am today which is author, coach, and teacher. While I’ve enjoyed all of those jobs I’ve always had an interest in emergency medical services (EMS). I’ve had my Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification for about twenty-five years. As a volunteer I spent twelve years doing search and rescue with San Diego Mountain Rescue and another twelve years as a ski patroller with Bear Mountain Ski Patrol. I served in both organizations while working my “day job”. Both volunteer experiences enriched my life greatly and provided lasting friendships with truly great people while allowing me to help people in need.
Hopefully you’re all currently volunteering in some capacity. For those who are not I hope this post inspires you to seek out a volunteer opportunity in an area that is of interest to you. In the mean time please consider and share your thoughts on the following:
- Do you and your family volunteer in your community?
- Are you active in professional organizations?
- Is there a field that you have always been interested in where you can work as a volunteer?
©2016 Joseph T Drammissi