June 22, 2021 | By Santina Pitcher
TAGS: best practices, volunteer, network, leadership, personal development, career development, member voices
I don’t know about you, but I’m a master at volunteering – just ask my husband! PTA? Check! Little League? Check! Classroom helper? Check! Soccer coach? Check! I’m a whiz at finding – or being found by – community opportunities to get involved with and lend a helping hand, but who knew you could volunteer for your professional community, which not only checks off all the feel-good vibes of giving back but also builds your professional capital?
Whether you’re checking people in at a conference, mentoring a colleague, or serving on one of the many affinity groups, task forces, or committees NACE uses to guide their priorities, there is an opportunity for you out there. In no particular order, here’s why you should volunteer for NACE today.
I have served on two committees and a task force, plus a few conference check-in booths over the years. I’ve had the opportunity to meet people from all over with different backgrounds, experiences, opinions, and ways of doing things. Our conversations have led to friendships, professional connections, and even challenges to the way I think. I welcome these connections and am grateful for the opportunity to grow through them.
I’m no stranger to professional organizations, but when I transitioned into career services from student affairs 13 years ago, NACE and my regional organization were paramount in helping me learn more about the profession, connect with employer partners, and create lasting networks. Once I began to volunteer, I was able to gain a rich understanding of why and how the work we do is important, how NACE is a partner in pushing these priorities through campus leadership, and how to leverage my strengths and skills to make an impact on my own campus.
At this point, you’re probably aware that we hold a conference every year (at least I hope you’re aware!). Admittedly, it was a few years before I realized there was a committee that chose the workshops. Before that realization, I had thought the awesome folks who work for NACE did that! Once I understood that, I began to explore other opportunities for member input and influence that might exist. The more involved I’ve gotten and the more people in the organization I’ve met, the more I’ve learned about other opportunities, which leads to a deeper understanding about how NACE impacts the work I do.
The work done with these committees and task forces absolutely has an impact. Whether you’re making decisions on which program proposals to approve for an upcoming conference, reviewing and revising career competencies, or having meaningful conversations with affinity group colleagues, these actions all make a difference in our profession.
While you may not be looking for a job right now, the skills you gain working on teams with people outside of your organization are highly sought by employers. Whether on the career services side or employer side, leadership, teamwork, critical thinking, and communication are just some of the skills you’ll strengthen, and they also happen to be four of our eight Career Readiness Competencies!
When you serve on a committee, it’s likely that what you are doing will come up in conversations with colleagues, which will then lead to questions about the work you’re doing, how often you meet, who is on the committee with you, what is the intended outcome of the work you are doing, and so many more. I know this because I had these conversations with a former supervisor who had been a longtime volunteer with NACE. I learned about the committees he sat on, the affinity groups he was a part of, and how he was able to leverage those networks as he looked to grow his own career. I have now been able to do that very same thing and am excited to speak with my own colleagues and team about the work I do and have encouraged them to volunteer for committees as well.
My hope is that at least one of these reasons will inspire you to take a closer look at volunteering with NACE – and for those who already do, maybe this list will add to your own reasons why you stay connected. I know you’ll be able to come up with your own reasons or add to mine here once you begin your own volunteer journey!
Santina Pitcher is associate director of Counseling & Programs at the University of California, Berkeley Career Center.
Percent of institutions conducting First-Destination Surveys
Median number of professional staff
Percent of career centers with employer partnership programs
Percent of staff time spent student-facing
2021-22 Career Services Benchmarks Survey