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Benefits of Community Involvement for Young Professionals

9/9/2020 - By Katherine Murphy

The benefits of community involvement are far-reaching – and not reserved for seasoned professionals deep into their careers. Navigating the world post-graduation may be daunting for young professionals but getting involved with community organizations can bring joy while preparing you for the workforce. Below are some helpful tips on how to get the most out of your community involvement:

Expand Your Social Circle

Many young professionals participated in on-campus organizations during their time in college, from volunteer groups to student organizations.. After graduation, you may find yourself in a new city or back home looking to meet other like-minded peers. Joining a community organization or simply signing up as a volunteer can be the perfect place to expand your social circle. Some organizations, such as the Junior League and Rotary, are membership-based. These groups may require an application and have a variety of membership qualifications from dues to volunteer hours. Other community organizations, such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Manna Food Bank, rely on a team of volunteers to meet their mission. Research the values and expectations of a variety of organizations in your community to find the best match for you to meet new people. 

Gain Personal Fulfillment

Taking on responsibilities and giving your time to a community organization can bring loads of personal fulfillment to professionals at any stage in their career. Many nonprofit organizations rely on volunteers to serve their mission. Choosing a nonprofit organization whose mission aligns with your values will allow you to serve your community and fulfill your passions. No value can be placed on the feeling you get from making a difference in your community. 

Additionally, you may be able to explore new roles outside of your career field which interests you. For example, if you majored in accounting in college but are interested in photography or social media marketing, you can find opportunities to explore these outlets while helping your chosen community organizations. No matter your passion, being part of a community organization can bring great personal joy at the beginning of your career. 

Hone Your Leadership Skills

Upon entering the job market, you have likely obtained the technical skills needed to embark on your career path from your studies and perhaps an internship or two, but what about soft skills? Having a toolkit of soft skills will set you above the competition and make you a better employee and coworker; joining a community organization can help you hone these skills. When volunteering with a community organization, you will have ample opportunities to improve your communication and teamwork capabilities. Additionally, you may have opportunities to practice your public speaking skills and even lead an event or project. Serving on the board of directors of a community organization is another excellent opportunity to develop and showcase your leadership skills. This will give you invaluable experience and abilities that you can utilize on your resume and in the workforce. 

Explore Networking Opportunities 

Finally, one of the main reasons young professionals join community organizations is networking. Many organizations, such as those with the specific purpose of business or professional development, host networking events that are perfect opportunities for young professionals to hone their networking skills. Joining or volunteering with a community organization with a service focus can also offer networking opportunities as a supplementary benefit. While serving your community, you can meet both young and seasoned professionals with common interests and goals. Your next boss, coworker, or client might be found at the next volunteer event or board meeting you attend. 

How to Get involved During the COVID-era

With mandatory social distancing guidelines set in place and many events canceled, it may seem tough to initially get involved in a community organization right now. However, many community organizations, especially those that provide a charitable service, have a greater need than ever for volunteers and help from the community. From board meetings and recruitment events held on Zoom to contactless donation drives, community organizations have been getting very creative in solving the limitations of the COVID-era. Reach out to your favorite organizations to see how you can get involved from the safety of your home. Of course, practice social distancing when possible and wear PPE when volunteering in your community. COVID-19 has certainly created challenges for community organizations, but it cannot stop the involvement of those passionate about making a difference in their communities and improving their professional development. 

I hope these tips and considerations come in handy when you are looking to get involved in your community. If you have questions or would like to know my experience of getting involved, connect with me on LinkedIn!

About the Author | Katherine Murphy
Katherine is a staff accountant in the Tax & Accounting Services Department of Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund. Her primary areas of experience include individual and entity tax returns. Prior to joining Saltmarsh, she worked in accounting at a regional firm in the Northwest Florida area. Katherine is pursuing her degree in Accounting from the University of West Florida.

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