Earlier this year I had the opportunity to spend some time at my undergraduate Alma mater, Southwestern University. A fantastic undergraduate school and experience, BTW.
They invited me to speak with a bright-eyed group of 50 sophomores about resume prep in a new program called the SOAR Summit.
It was fun! I hope I was helpful to them. I know the experience was helpful to me. It connected me back to my roots, reminding me of the times of growth during college - both the fun times and the not so fun. I retraced steps I had taken as a student - to and fro across campus to dorm rooms and the library and the chapel and the commons. The campus is so much more grand today, but the feel is the same. I retraced the route where my husband and I walked late at night when we were dating - sneaking furtively across campus in the wee hours from his dorm to mine, as he walked me home.
The memories were sweet, and that was neat. What was also neat was the opportunity to pay it forward to an upcoming generation. Who knows, one of these young folks could be one of our future bosses. I want them to be ready for a grand career. To land with firms that will care for their career development and help them be strong leaders. I realized that it's our job to pay it forward and lean in to help young souls start and navigate their careers.
Giving to others also makes you feel good. But can it be really altruistic if it makes you feel good, too? Sure it can. I like this quote from an article on the balancesmb.com: "We notice a subtle shift in ourselves when we volunteer. We feel more connected to others, and we become less absorbed in the normal stresses of daily life." The article lists 12 benefits from volunteering, such as connecting with others, showcasing your skills and positive mental health. It just plain felt good to support others, and set a good tone for the year.
Finally, serving others can sharpen your own skills. It's a great place to practice skills, learn new ones or gain experience in a new field. Not only are you practicing a skillset, but you might make a connection that lands you a new role or introduction to a mentor you've been seeking. Sometimes in volunteer capacities we are asked to serve in an area that is new or outside our comfort zone. Take them up on the offer. I like this article from The Muse, especially the part about how volunteering can help you suss out what you're looking for in a career. Developing skills and honing your career - I call that a win.
So yes, win on paying it forward. Win on giving you the good feels, and win in developing skills and your career. Whatever your passion, there's a charity, community project or Alma mater that could use your support.
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Photos were taken by the author during SOAR weekend, January 2020.