Starting this year, I began serving on the NACE Career Readiness Integration Task Force. As a first-time volunteer, being on this task force has been an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience, but I do have to admit that I’ve been a NACE member for much longer than I’ve been a volunteer. So, what held me back?
I am an introvert in a field with a lot of extroverts.
My strengths center around learning, ideation, and strategic thinking—largely individual activities, so even though I’m a very mission-driven person, the idea of volunteer events where you meet and make small talk with new people isn’t really in my comfort zone. The thing is, though, I really love the idea of volunteering and giving back to my different communities, but I needed some extra motivation to join.
This opportunity to engage with NACE made perfect sense. My organization, The Washington Center, was lucky enough to get in on the ground floor with the Career Readiness Project. My old colleague and mentor, Sherrod Williams, played a role in redefining the competencies because of our involvement, so it was almost kismet that the task force was formed right when I was deciding I needed a pivot from my usual conference engagements.
Even still—since I’m still in the confessional—I probably wouldn’t have thrown my hat in the ring without a nudge from Dr. Williams. And you know what? I’m so glad for that nudge!
Volunteering in this capacity has allowed me to see the organization in a new light, connect with fellow members, and advance my own professional understanding of our field. I’m able to contribute my own skills and perspectives while seeing the larger picture of what we can accomplish together.
So, am I a reformed introvert? Well, maybe don’t look for me to greet you at the door in Florida for NACE23, but even still, I’m here to tell you that there are a lot of great ways for introverts to volunteer in our communities that utilize our skills without expecting us to be social butterflies.
If you’re like me and looking for some introvert-friendly ways to stay engaged, consider a task force, affinity group, or mentoring. If you prefer to stay behind the scenes and enjoy writing, look for some chances to share your knowledge through the NACE Community or NACE Journal articles. There are so many chances to get involved in this community; you just need to pick the one that’s right for you!
You might also be wondering if, after my experience with the task force, I would volunteer my time and skills again. You just read the answer!
Chris Mesaros currently volunteers on the NACE Career Readiness Integration Task Force. He is also a senior manager of program innovation at The Washington Center where he designs experiential learning opportunities for students.