Lead a life of service and you can benefit your career at the same time, which may include a military promotion.
“Hello, my name is Jason, I’m the new guy and I’m happy to be here,” is how I introduced myself to the group of strangers seated around a conference table.
I had just walked into the boardroom of an organization I applied to help lead, and met the professionals I would soon call friends. I pursued this opportunity to serve on the board of directors for a local non-profit that I had volunteered with for years; it was the local chapter of a nationally-recognized youth mentorship organization.
I was in love with their mission. My passion for what it stands for and its positive impact on young boys and girls was certainly my main reason for choosing to donate my time, but I admittedly was being a little selfish, too.
Much like my story, countless service members and their family members serve others and work toward a greater good for an organization or community much larger than themselves. Traits such as selflessness, care for others, passion to do good deeds, and positivity are all traits that fit the military mindset.
This makes us great candidates to provide valuable contributions to charities and even to serve on committees and boards. There are countless groups in our communities — both large and small — that do wonderful things and help people in many facets of their lives.
Finding the right fit
You can help wayward pets find loving homes, build houses for underprivileged families, plan veteran fundraising events, deliver food to elderly folks, etc. No matter what your passion is or what motivates you to serve, you can find a charity that fits you.
If as you read this, your interest in volunteering is peaked, I suggest visiting Volunteer Match to research causes in need of your help. The great part of this service is that it will guide you to charities right in your own neighborhood that have needs to be met. Just recently, Volunteer Match showed nearly 100,000 active opportunities available for volunteers!
While the goal of charity service is first and foremost a selfless one, there also is room to benefit from those selfless acts at the same time. Volunteering grants you a powerful growth opportunity and can pay dividends with your career.
Building soft skills
No matter the cause, the work you will perform for the charity you choose such as leading teams, representing the charity in the public sphere, soliciting for donations, and planning events, are all duties you will find yourself accomplishing on a regular basis—by doing so you will strengthen your professional skills as well. In fact, my own personal volunteer experiences made an indelible impact simultaneously on my military career.
In addition to building “soft skills,” volunteering can grow your career in more tangible ways. Adding community work into your battle rhythm and onto your resume can help you compete for promotions and awards. Volunteering certainly shouldn’t replace your focus at work, but when you can add off-base community work on top of your skills in the shop or the office, it’ll propel your professional ambitions forward. I personally was able to compete for NCO of the Year and Quarter awards and against others for promotions successfully because I was good at my job and a volunteer in my community at the same time.
My experience working for just one organization has been rewarding — but don’t take my word alone as gospel. Board Source, an organization meant to inspire and support excellence in non-profit governance states, “Serving on a board is a wonderful way to support a cause that you care about. But it also can be a powerful way to build your own skills and expertise. Individuals who serve on a board have the opportunity to develop and grow as leaders, cultivate new skill sets, and expand their network of peers, professionals, and community leaders.”
The whole airman concept
Further attesting to the impact volunteering can have on your military career is the opinion of a mentor of mine who is a Command Chief Master Sergeant. He says, “Volunteer service is part of the Whole Airman Concept. Volunteering enhances an Airman’s chances for success. It shows that their dedication extends beyond the mission and it widens their aperture for knowledge. Depending on the duties performed, our Airmen could be developing vital skills that will translate into mission effectiveness.”
Want to grow as a leader? Have certain skills you would like to build? Have time to give back to others? Is there a charity mission close to your heart? Want to compete for promotions and awards? If any or all of these statements apply to you, seek opportunities to volunteer in the community today