Give Back and Boost Your Career!

Volunteering or giving back is something that a lot of us put off until “some day,” like when we retire, have more money or more leisure time — myself included. I’m always inspired by TV shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Deserving Design and, most recently, Oprah’s Big Give. I’ve volunteered and mentored here and there but it isn’t something I do regularly.

This morning, I was watching an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America with Malaak Compton-Rock, wife of comedian Chris Rock and a judge on Oprah’s Big Give. Her mother raised her to volunteer and give back and, as such, Malaak has dedicated her life to humanitarian issues. Her website The Angel Rock Project lists at least 7 different causes that she either coordinates or supports, from Hurricane Katrina relief to Breast Cancer awareness. She’s truly an inspiration. Granted, she has the wealth and resources to devote her entire life to philanthropy but it’s not like she has to — she chooses to. How many other celebrity husbands or wives give back for a living?

It’s amazing what you can accomplish in your life and career — and in the world — by finding a cause you can be passionate about. Here are a few examples:

  • If you’re like countless others who are unsatisfied with their life or want to do something more meaningful, supporting a cause will quickly make you feel like your life has more substance. Consequently, you’ll feel better about who you are, how you’ve chosen to spend your time and energy, and instantly connect you to a community.
  • If you’re confused about your career path, in a transition or have no idea what you’re passionate about, start volunteering and find your niche. It’s a way to “take a taste” of different industries and career paths that interest you. Is politics your calling? Support a candidate or back an issue. Do you think you might want to be an event coordinator or go into marketing? Volunteer with an organization to help plan or promote their next benefit.
  • If you want to get ahead in your career, being involved in a cause is a great way to acquire new skills, expand your network and possibly meet potential employers. If you’re still in the process of building your skills, experience and abilities, a charitable cause or volunteer initiative might be willing to give you a shot at projects that no employer would.
  • Being involved is also a way too develop expertise on a subject and become the go-to person for answers. The more you participate in events, donate your time, work with people in your field or industry, take on assorted projects that give you exposure to new areas, perspectives, personalities and opportunities, the more real world experience and expertise you build. With all this newfound info and insight, you could create a blog, develop an e-newsletter or even create your own organization in the future. You can build a platform from which you can launch all sorts of initiatives and efforts.

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Jovie Baclayon is the editorial director for YSN.com and an expert in the experiences faced by emerging adults. To learn more, check out Jovie’s YSN portfolio and feel free to e-mail her! She blogs every Wednesday and Friday on Waste Time Wisely.