How Volunteering Builds Your Professional Network
Posted April 17, 2014
By Mike Latimer
On the heels of Volunteer Appreciation Week, it’s appropriate that I’ve been asked to write on the topic of how volunteering builds your professional network.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s estimated that about 62.6 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2012 and September 2013. In 2011, it was estimated that the total 7.9 billion hours spent volunteering has a value of about $171 billion.
People volunteer for a variety of reasons, from wanting to help others to being encouraged or “voluntold” to volunteer for an activity or a cause. Some of my Navy colleagues might even say that NAVY means Never Again Volunteer Yourself.
I was “voluntold” to participate at my first affiliate meeting in Laurel, Mississippi. Ginger Griffin, R.T.(R), FASRT was there as the ASRT representative and she grabbed the young man sitting in the back of the room and got him involved. That was back in 1997 or 1998 and I haven’t stopped.
Along the way, I’ve attended affiliate meetings not only in Mississippi but in Texas, Virginia, Colorado, California, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina and, most recently, in Delaware. I’ve attended every ASRT Annual Conference/Annual Governance and House of Delegates Meeting since 1998. In those 17 years I’ve had the honor and privilege to meet and visit with some of the greatest members of the greatest profession in the world and I’d like to think that I can call many of them my friends.
I can say without hesitation that the professional connections I’ve made over the years and continue to make each time I attend an affiliate meeting or at the ASRT governance meeting are invaluable.
I encourage my students and any technologist I encounter during my travels to get out of the house and attend either an affiliate or national meeting. They might learn something and they get the opportunity to meet with other students or technologists and see how they do things. I also tell them that they might be surprised by how much fun they’ll have. I find it “more better” to get my CE credits face-to-face than online staring at a computer screen.
The bottom line is, you get out of volunteering only what you put into it, and I’ve found through the years I’ve volunteered a lot of my free time to a variety of causes and the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction I’ve received in return is priceless.
I’ll close with a quote:
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948)