Getting Involved Can Enhance Your Career
For those that have been working in a job or industry for a while, things can get stale. Even when the work is somewhat different, a lot of people are in the position that they have the training and certifications, a wealth of knowledge and experience, but are unsure about steps to take to continue to move their career forward. A “logical next step” does not always exist in every job, industry or specific situation. The more seasoned we get in our careers, the more creative we have to get about developing ourselves professionally. Getting involved can enhance your career because it can not only help prepare you for future opportunities, but it can help turn your current role into something fresh, exciting and increase motivation.
The first place to look to increase your involvement is in your own backyard. What is going on at your company or workplace that you can lend your expertise? Volunteering or stepping up to serve on a project team or committee at work does several things. First, it puts you in the position to work with different people in your organization. Second, you can gain a different perspective on your business by working on different priorities and trying to meet different objectives. Performing well in these situations can give you a reputation as a good team player and someone who contributes and gets things done. You would be doing yourself a disservice to just sign up to help with anything. If you are going to volunteer to work on a project, make sure it is something that you can truly invest in and get behind in order to commit the time to making it successful.
Most career fields have professional or trade organizations that are important to those professions and industries. These groups may provide members with professional development through seminars, meetings and conferences; networking opportunities; ways to stay current on developing issues and trends; lobbying efforts; and the ability to share information and ideas with other members. Professional organizations are arranged in a variety of different ways, but many have operations at not only the international or national level, but also the regional and local level.
For those looking for opportunities to enhance their professional standing, getting involved in a professional organization can be a tremendous opportunity for you as an individual, and oftentimes your employer. Giving back to a trade or profession can be a great way to raise both yours and your employer’s profile. The meetings and conferences and trainings that take place do not just happen on their own. In most cases, a lot of volunteers are needed to put on even small events. You may also be able to help create the professional development content provided to the organization’s members through your own expertise and connections. Consider reaching out to to a professional organization you have been part of and see how you can get more involved.
Service and Community Outreach
Sometimes there are leadership opportunities that present themselves outside of work that can ultimately make a positive contribution to your community, your employer and your own development. Non-profits, community, service and civic organizations routinely need volunteers to serve on boards of directors, committees and to help out with events and special projects. Serving on a non-profit board or committee can be valuable experience that translates to the business world. Boards of directors set the vision and direction of the organization. It can be a rewarding and enlightening experience to serve in this capacity, especially for those that have not routinely been exposed to this type of decision making at work.
In addition to playing a strategic role in the financial and organizational governance, boards are usually made up of professionals from diverse backgrounds. This can give board members additional opportunities to make connections and work with other people on important issues that both of you are passionate about.
Networking and Leadership
Consistent throughout these examples of ways to get involved to enhance your career is the theme around networking and leadership. All too often when we have been in the same job or organization for an extended period of time, we become type-casted. Like the actor that always seems to play a lawyer in every role you see them in, our colleagues can sometimes do the same thing to us and our careers. It is not always intentional and is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can get old and stale. That is why it sometimes becomes necessary to look outside normal channels for the next professional and personal development opportunity. There is a great deal to be learned from working with other professionals in different settings and new situations.
Leadership is the other key to this strategy because, if you have not yet noticed, most of these examples involve serving others. Whether it is an important project within your organization or getting involved somewhere that has been important to you personally or professionally, there is an incredible amount of potential in serving other people and the greater good.
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