Volunteering = Professional Development

This blog post was written by Thea Sahr, Director of Programs at DiscoverE.


Not only is volunteering fulfilling, it is a great way to further your professional skills and opportunities. This was the take away message from a DiscoverE webinar I recently hosted. Our panelists Dale Jans, VP of Jans Corporation; Danielle Couger, Senior Research Engineer at Lockheed Martin and Conrad Ball, Chief Engineer for Engineering Central Initiative at The Boeing Company shared their experiences volunteering and how it helped their career. Here are some tips they shared:

 1. Volunteering diversifies your experiences: Volunteering gives you a taste of things that you wouldn’t normally see in your day job, and helps you develop skills necessary for leadership. Danielle got her first leadership opportunity when she volunteered at Habitat for Humanity in college. “The leadership skills I learned at Habitat are ones that I use to guide my team at Lockheed Martin.”
 Volunteering can help you develop a skill set or sharpen your current skills: When you volunteer, you will have a chance to learn new skills and enhance the skills you already have. Conrad learned the value of teamwork from his time volunteering, “It was great to sharpen my teamwork skills when I volunteered, and I even took what I learned back to my workplace.”

2. Don’t limit yourself with volunteer experiences: When it comes to volunteering, you don’t have to support only one cause or organization. Dale believes that you shouldn’t let volunteer opportunities pass you by because you might be missing out on great experiences, “Traveling and experiencing other cultures are just a few examples of what can come from volunteering. When you limit your volunteering opportunities you are limiting yourself from these other experiences.”

3. It’s about work/life balance: When you are passionate about the cause or organization your volunteer for, it is easier to make time for it in your schedule. When you volunteer, you grow as a person, both personally and professionally and it impacts your personal life positively, as well as your professional development. Conrad believes a work/life blend is a way to have balance. “A great approach to achieve the work/life blend is to involve your family in your volunteerism.”

4. Volunteering can lead to great networking: You never know where your experiences will lead you. Dale has met a variety of people volunteering who have helped him in his career, “Opportunities to network with like-minded people could lead to jobs or connections with professionals in your field. You never know where jobs will come from so starting early will help to build your network.”

Interested in volunteering but don’t know where to start? Visit DiscoverE.org. We are leading a growing volunteer movement that inspires and informs present and future generations to discover engineering. While at DiscoverE.org you’ll find online trainings on being an effective volunteer, hands-on engineering activities, and other resources you can use to inspire the next generation of engineers. You can listen to the full webinar featuring Dale, Conrad, and Danielle here: http://bit.ly/1N8BOC3 

September 27th, 2016