Someone asked me recently “Why do you volunteer?”. There are many reasons and a simple answer. Volunteering provides me stories I can tell.
Over the years, I’ve been committed to STEM and CTE initiatives like Future City Competition, SMART Competition, Science Olympiad and First Robotics. In the community I’m engaged with organizations including the Salvation Army, Special Olympics, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Arizona LeaderForce. When I go to a social gathering or meeting or even a day at the office, it’s easy for me to avoid discussions about politics or sports or cars or computers. I can tell stories about impactful moments that I’ve been part of or witnessed. Events or actions that made a difference in someone’s life (including mine). That’s the value of volunteering.
Beyond the stories and the infinite number of opportunities that are provided to each of us, I believe it’s all about making an impact. It’s providing some level of expertise to an organization, event or individual that was needed to create the success.
Let’s add volunteerism to our profession and professional life too. What can you contribute? Think about this for a moment.
You’re an experienced professional at the peak of your career. A young professional joins the company and is a little hesitant about what to do on a project. What can you do to make that young professional comfortable? What steps can you take to assure that the “new person” becomes productive quickly? You know! You become a mentor and resource person. You share ideas, walk the person through the development process, discuss project strategies and vision. Introduce the mentee to the other members of the project team. You introduce the new person to your customers. You share. And in the process, you create value to the company and a young professional becomes your mentee. What’s even more important, that young professional becomes a resource person for other new hires and peers.
At the end of the day, the conversations you have with your co-workers, friends or life partner are not about the project, the development process, project strategies, the project team or customers. It’s about the impact that you’ve made and what resources you can provide tomorrow to your mentee. You’ll talk about the successes that individual is experiencing and how they are growing personally and professionally. You’ll be thinking about “what’s next”.
While your relationship with the young professional may not seem like you’re serving as a volunteer, it has all the characteristics of being a volunteer. The dictionary defines volunteer as a person who undertakes or expresses a willingness to provide a service with no expectation of personal gain or return. Isn’t that what you’re doing?
Want to make a global impact? The next time you read an interesting article or posting on a blog, why not pass it along? TEMS has Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Collabratec and You Tube channels plus publications on the TEMS web site. To share, just send the article with credit to the original author to me. We’ll get it posted for you. One small action making a huge difference.