Free Career Development-by Giving
My name is Jhemon Lee, and welcome to my column here at AsianConnections.com!
The topics I chat about will undoubtedly meander as time goes
on, but at least early on, AsianConnections has asked that I talk
about career development.
certainly don't need me to tell you about one minute management
secrets, or who moved your cheese, or other pithy metaphors that
translate into New York Times bestsellers. There's a lot that
you can learn from reading books, from conferences and courses
and from mentors. But in the end, the best way to learn is by
doing. Nothing beats hands-on experience.
here's a secret for you-the best place to get hands-on practical
experience are volunteer organizations-be they community service
groups, professional associations, sports teams or arts and culture
endeavors. They all need your help, and they all make the neighborhood
a nicer, more interesting place. But from a purely selfish standpoint,
you'll also be helping yourself.
people only look at volunteer groups as "give" or "take"-either
you're "giving" (volunteering at a soup kitchen) or you're "taking"
(going to a gala event that you enjoy. What's overlooked is the
process, the "doing." And it's "doing" that may be the most important
to learn more about finance? Become your local chapter's treasurer.
Want to know more about the web? Work on your group's website.
Want to become an upper level manager someday? Shoot for leadership
positions. You'd be surprised how quickly you can move up the
ranks if you set your mind to it. In a lot of organizations, they're
practically begging for people to take officer positions, since
everyone else is busy with their real day jobs.
it this way: in a worst case scenario, let's say that you're a
horrible manager. If you find this out while working on a project
at work, you get fired. If you discover this while working on
a project in your local community association, the worst that
can happen is that you let some colleagues down, but your career
and your paycheck are intact. And in a better case scenario, you'll
learn and discover talents that you never thought you had.
by giving-your time, your energies, you end up getting-real life
management and work skills.
done most of my volunteering and community involvement through
Asian Pacific American non-profits like the National Association
of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP: www.naaap.org)
and its chapters, but from a career development standpoint, it
really doesn't matter what cause you get involved in. Pick an
organization whose mission and goals you care about. Larger associations
provide more structure and more potential networking, but smaller
groups offer more opportunities for true leadership and leaving
your personal stamp on the organization.
of your local volunteer organization as a place to practice your
skills before you use them "for real" in the workplace. It's free.
It's fun. And best of all, you're making the world a better place
for yourself and the rest of us.