I was having lunch with a colleague recently and we were talking about volunteering and the different ways we can get involved and if there is a benefit to it (both personally and professionally). I am a little bit of a volunteer junkie or is that volunteer sucker? I just can’t seem to say no. When there is silence in the room waiting for volunteers I feel the need to just put up my hand to end the awkwardness. I may not always realize what I am getting myself in.
This year I was asked by a member of the Ottawa event community to mentor at the local college for the popular event management program. This terrified me and yet I still eagerly said yes despite the feeling of dread in my stomach. All these negative thoughts ran through my head, doubting what I had to offer to these eager students: what kind of guidance could I possibly provide? I was in a group of really accomplished professionals all there to mentor, I felt like a duck out of water and was waiting for someone to ask me to leave.
Thankfully I was assigned to an incredible group of students. They have made the entire process really eye opening for me. It is easy to get jaded in any job, you take for granted the good things and tend to dwell on the negatives. No career is perfect but to see the industry through their eyes is refreshing. Their attack, creativity and ‘can do’ attitude is a breath of fresh air. I love how they are fearless with their vision. They are going for it and I think that is admirable. I can’t wait to see their 1920s speakeasy come to life on March 7 (shameless plug http://www.facebook.com/MysteryAtTheSpeakeasy)
When they email me and when we meet, I still feel like I am an imposter. These students are looking at me for insights. It scares me that I am old enough to have the experience I do but I am happy to share what I know and my suggestions though I don’t guarantee it is always the right answers for them.
This mentor program is a great opportunity not only for them to connect with our local industry in which they hope to be employed when they graduate but also lets us “seasoned” professionals reconnect.
I think the reason I get overly involved in the community is I don’t know another way to get back. I’m not independently wealthy so I can’t give money, all I have is my time. We have been lucky to have been well received with our business and I think that if we can, we need to make the community better in whichever way we can. Even if it is just a few hours a month, it is a contribution to the greater good and in a very small way I am having some impact (besides making tables look nice with pretty linens).