By Jordana Daum, Volunteer Services Coordinator, IABC/Calgary
If you run into a friend in the plus 15’s of downtown Calgary and inquire as to their well-being, there always seems to be one word that you hear, busy. Variations of this response include but are not limited to: “I am crazy busy,” “work is so busy,” “I can’t believe it’s already November,” “It will be Christmas before you know it” and so on and so forth. As the pressures of our careers and personal lives are ever increasing, and the “b-word” consumes our vocabulary, it makes it all the more unthinkable to commit to the “v-word,” volunteering.
When I was asked to write this article on “Why Volunteer,” after the momentary panic as to when I would find the time to write this, I really began to worry. How could I wax poetic on the benefits of volunteering when my own volunteering obligations often add stress to already over scheduled days? How could I draft a compelling argument on the reasons to volunteer when I often find myself wondering why I agree to do these things?
These questions prompted me to really think about why I choose to volunteer and after careful consideration I realized the truth: I volunteer for IABC/Calgary because they have helped me to get ahead in my own career. While I would love to spend upwards of 250 words telling you that I volunteer because I am committed to furthering the communications industry in Calgary or because I am innately giving person that would be untrue. For every hour I have spent volunteering for IABC the value returned to me personally has been tenfold.
I began volunteering for IABC/Calgary three years ago and from day one it was, and continues to be, an infinitely rewarding experience. After sending a very general email inquiring about a volunteer posting I was immediately contacted and the Volunteer Services Director looked over my resume and suggested a position she felt was a good fit. Within a week I was meeting with my Portfolio’s Director. We talked at length about my career and about IABC in general and that conversation became my foundation for understanding IABC and my role within it. Throughout the last three years, while sitting on the IABC/Calgary Volunteer Services team, I have benefitted from the following:
Mentorship – During my time volunteering for IABC/Calgary I have built relationships with leaders in the communications industry in Calgary. These individuals have given me something to aspire to and have also provided invaluable feedback. When I recently changed jobs, the support and encouragement that I received throughout the process from my volunteering connections was essential.
Career Skill Development – When I started volunteering for IABC/Calgary I chose to volunteer for a portfolio where I had a base of knowledge but also in an area that I knew I wanted to develop. The experience that I have gained has been directly applicable to my career and has allowed me to apply for jobs that I wouldn’t have been qualified for prior to volunteering.
Broader Industry Understanding – In my first two positions I worked at very small companies where I was the only communications professional in the office. The connections that I made through volunteering for IABC/Calgary allowed me to understand industry trends in Calgary and provided a valuable platform for knowledge sharing.
The three years that I have spent volunteering for IABC/Calgary have afforded me opportunities for relationship building, skill development and industry experience. While I am no less busy I can honestly say that the value that I have gained from volunteering far trumps the minimal time commitment.