2020 Update: We still stand by this discussion on strategic volunteering — but you may also want to check out our more recent discussions on unconventional ways to build your network, as well as how to get on a board.
Do you guys volunteer? Do you do it at a high level (board member or committee level)? How did you get started doing it — were you interested in the organization, did you purposely do it for networking, or did you somehow fall into it? We’ve talked about this in the context of making new friends, as well as pondering what professional organizations you should join and polling how much everyone gives to charity — but we haven’t really talked about strategic volunteering.
I’m way under the weather today, so I’ve been lying in bed catching up on reading, watching TED, and playing Candy Crush. (I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a sick day!) One of the articles I’m trying to catch up on (if the NYT didn’t have a huge banner ad that pops up right in the middle of the text) is the recent one about how “the opt out generation wants back in.” Anyway, I was particularly interested to hear about the role that volunteering played in returns to work:
Among the women I spoke with, those who didn’t have the highest academic credentials or highest-powered social networks or who hadn’t been sufficiently “strategic” in their volunteering (fund-raising for a Manhattan private school could be a nice segue back into banking; running bake sales for the suburban swim team tended not to be a career-enhancer) or who had divorced, often struggled greatly.
So, ladies — are you strategic in your volunteering? How much time do you devote to volunteering in general? If you were to try to do strategic volunteering, what would you do?
Psst: These are some of our favorite books if you’re considering changing your career: