With summer here, it is easy to get in the habit of hitting up a patio after work with friends to socialize. However don’t forget about giving back. Have no clue what I am talking about?
Well I am talking about a) the upcoming professionals who will join the ranks of the workplace in a couple of years and b) your current network, which may need some maintenance.
Over the last two years, I have changed jobs, finished a MBA, and moved. Life is crazy at times; I can say from experience it’s hard to make others a priority in the midst of the madness, but it is well worth the effort.
Thinking back to when I finished my first diploma, the best classroom sessions were when work professionals came to the classroom and shared their real life examples and wisdom. Those classes got me pumped to persevere and helped me get through summer semesters. Sharing your work experience is such an easy way to give back.
Recently I went to a high school event for ICT Day (Information, Communications and Technology) in Coquitlam. A bunch of fabulous women joined together that day and shared with the students what reality is like for women in the technology industry – an industry which is significantly under represented for female workers. After a wonderful day of sharing, coaching and conversation, I couldn’t get over the excitement in some of the girl’s eyes. I felt that same excitement all over again.
I had two thoughts at the end of that day: I wished I had the same opportunity when I was in elementary school, and I wished there were more schools that went above and beyond to expose students earlier in their education to the reality of and love for work in the professional world.
Soon after I went back to my old stomping grounds of BCIT with one member from my team and gave a presentation to an eager group of marketing students, again, the engagement and excitement in the room was palpable. (Picture on left is after the presentation).
Our school system is one that continues to get criticized, and rather than add to the noise, I gave back. My form of giving back was my time. I simply supplemented the post secondary curriculum with examples from my everyday work life – examples which sometimes seem ordinary to me. I gave these students some real examples, data, war stories and hopefully inspired them.
I am not solving the root problem, but I am helping by sharing with those who are about to take flight in their careers my passion and love for work. I am paying it forward, as someone once did for me.
Lastly, don’t forget your current network, colleagues who are probably hitting up those patios too. Summer a great time to check-in on people with whom you haven’t connected in a while, or to keep those hundreds of “let’s do coffee” commitments.
In the last month I can say I have paid back my network debt and feel more connected within my industry and field of work. The payoff? I’ve been able to get more done, and strengthened work relationships, by simply dialling a “friend” to ask a question rather than googling it.
Let’s get real here, this is simply good Karma. Before summer gets in full swing, look at your calendar and see where you can donate your time to a high school, university, or a colleague in your field. I suspect you will be happy you did.