Saturday, February 27, 2010
Your Career and You: Building Your "Street Creds" as a Volunteer
I've noticed over the years that there are two types of job seekers: those who are focused and intent on finding the best possible opportunity, and those who, for whatever reason, think that the job will come to them on the ol' silver platter.
Got some news for those of you in the latter group...not going to happen.
If you want me, your potential employer, to be interested in you, you have to show me that you're committed...that you want to succeed and have been building your credibility in that area.
Logical question: "How do I do that?" Simple answer: "Go above and beyond. Do more than asked. Push yourself. Take chances and find out what it is that you really like to do."
For students, or for anyone, for that matter, it's relatively easy. Nonprofit organizations are perpetually in need of volunteer support. Maybe they need help with writing and producing a newsletter. Or perhaps some assistance with a fundraising campaign. Or they are looking for younger members for their board of directors to bring in a fresh point of view.
If you're in college, there are any number of student-run organizations where you could get involved. At Curry College, for example, there are more than two dozen such groups including the Curry College Public Relations Student Association.
To get the most out of your membership, though, start out as a general member and get a feel for the organization. Then step forward and volunteer for committee work or, if possible, run for an elected board position. However you do it, you're adding one more level of credibility to your profile. And, once you're involved, show you've got what it takes... volunteer for projects that interest you, and step up to the plate as the leader who can make things happen!
Out of college? If you have warm feelings for your alma mater, get involved on the alumni council. Look around in your neighborhood for nonprofits that focus on causes you believe in and reach out to them as a volunteer. I once got involved with a start-up organization in Boston known as "Boston Harborfest." I was intrigued with their mission and felt that I, and my employer at the time (US Army Boston District Recruiting Command), might be able to help.
Long story short and more than 25 years later, I am Clerk of the Board of Directors and a "drank the Koolaid" believer in the ability of visionary organizations to make a difference. More important, I am able to point to my long-term commitment and the amazing amount of experience that I have gained through my involvement when I am talking with potential employers...in addition to having a whole raft of "lessons learned" that I can share with my Communication students at Curry.
So, build your street creds...get out there, on campus or off, and get involved. Not only will you gain some invaluable experience in the process; you will add an extra level of professionalism to your portfolio... and have a heck of a good time in the process!