Career Advancement through Volunteerism

A preview of my upcoming article that will be published in Tu Decides Newspaper.  I could have expanded on each bullet point but had to stay within the word limit:

Career Advancement through Volunteerism

In our current economic climate, working for free might not sound like the most prudent career move, but you might be surprised to discover that joining a non-profit board can be a gold mine for career development, as well as time well spent. Working for a non-profit board can be personally rewarding as you give back to the community, but it can also deliver tangible benefits by allowing you to hone your leadership abilities, expand your skill set, widen your professional network and gain access to corporate decision makers.

1)      Hone Your Leadership Abilities:

You might not have management responsibilities in your current job but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a manager.  Leaders of non-profit boards need the same management leadership skills as CEOs of any organization.   If that’s too much to take on right away, many boards will provide you the opportunity to lead a committee.  Managing a group of volunteers can be even more challenging and rewarding than managing direct reports.  It is very difficult to keep non-paid volunteers without demonstrating great leadership abilities.

2)      Expand Your Skill Set:

Are you in a finance career today but dream of a position in marketing?  Many non-profit organizations have committees in marketing, finance, communications, customer service, and public relations, just to name a few – perfect opportunities to try out these roles to gauge your own interest level, as well as give you a place to build experience for potential transition in the future.

3)      Widen Your Professional Network:

Many nonprofit boards are full of leaders in a wide range of industries who take an active role in their communities.  Serving alongside these leaders allows you to build a network beyond your immediate workplace – an invaluable advantage, especially in today’s economic environment when job security is questionable.

4)      Gain Access To Corporate Decision Makers:

Getting access to key decision makers in large corporations is difficult enough when you work there, and nearly impossible when you don’t.  Non-profit boards are constantly in contact with corporations, executives, and hiring managers as they seek to get sponsorship dollars, organize events, and obtain guest speakers.  If you serve on a non-profit board, you’ll have a type of instant credibility that can get you in the door of any organization.

Whether a layoff is a recent experience or a possible threat, these benefits could be invaluable as you move forward.  If you are a spouse of a foreign national here on a work visa, but do not have work authorization, this is also a great way to keep you skills sharp and build your network as you work towards obtaining employment authorization.

Several local, professional organizations are always looking for passionate volunteers.  The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Puget Sound Chapter (SHPE-PSC –, the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA –, the Association of Washington State Hispanic Chambers of Commerce (AWSHCC –, the Professional Women of Color Network (, and the National Society of Hispanic MBAs Seattle chapter (NSHMBA –  Contact them today or look for a group that fits your personal ambitions, and begin enjoying the benefits of volunteerism.

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