Offering and utilizing your obtained skills to the community at-large comes with some awesome benefits.
1. You get an opportunity to practice your theoretical skills in “real life” with real people. This is great for your resume, recommendation letters, and your general understanding of the subject matter.
2. You will grow your network. NEVER underestimate the value in knowing a few well positioned people.
3. You may gain a well-paid full-time or part-time position. Many community organizations have voids in their organization job offerings and who better to hire than someone that they have experience with and who they know will get the job done? I’ve seen this happen many times!
4. Your good karma goes through the roof! To be honest, it just feels good to know that you’ve helped someone. Especially something that means a lot to their well-being. The smiles, good wishes, and thank you messages from a grateful community will boost your feelings of goodwill like nothing else. My heart is tingling from the thought…ahhh.
There is ALWAYS going to be a place that can use your acquired knowledge and skills! That place may even be in your own neighborhood.
If understanding that you have a valuable skill set is the first step, then speaking to the right people in the community to offer your skills and knowledge would be the second.
As a student, most educational institutions have centers that specialize in community relations and these are great places to start networking with your local community. The success of these centers at accomplishing their mission will be a mixed bag, so do not hesitate to bring your own passion and flair to the situation. You are the best candidate for the job!
The last and probably the most important part of this process is listening. When you walk into someone else’s community, you NEVER want to present yourself as ALL-KNOWING! First LISTEN to what everyone has to say, THEN share with them ways that you think that you can help.
Remember that helping does not always mean that you did the work. Sometimes the most helpful thing that you can do is find them someone that can do the job better than you or sampling finding the physical resources that they need to do the job themselves.
Consider where you’ve come from – your own journey and struggles to reach this stage in your life – and remember that you did not achieve your success alone. You are inherently tethered to the COMMUNITY from which you’ve come.
That is why building community capacity and strength is important!
Be one with your community and go share your skills with the world!
Dr. Gabriel Burks is dedicated to increasing higher education awareness and showing aspiring scholars the power of science.