By Michael Jordan, MHA, CRA, RT(R)
May 2012—It seems like every time you turn around there is a new cause to get involved in. There are a number of nonprofit organizations looking for financial support or simply your time. In playing into the stereotypical perception that other age groups have of millennials, the first question we ask is “What’s in it for me?” While the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers will say that you should do this community service because it is the right thing to do, I am here to offer a different perspective. I am here to tell you what’s in it for you. The answer is a lot.
We are all members of AHRA for a reason. Those reasons vary from mentorship, to education, to peer networking. These are many of the same things that you can get when you volunteer in the community. Let me share with you a great example from my experience. I had been a manager for only a few months when I was asked to serve on a planning committee for the United Way’s “Day of Caring.” It sounded like something fun. It would get me out of the office once a month and I got to work with some of the leaders from my organization on this project.
I had been to the Day of Caring in previous years, but only as a participant. We would meet in the morning and then go out across the community doing projects for the elderly and disabled. This was a chance to give back to the community by pruning bushes, mowing lawns, etc. There were about 400 to 500 volunteers the first year I attended. The first year I was on the planning committee my eyes were open to all the work that goes on to make such an event happen and how it benefitted me to be on that planning team. We did the work to make the event happen, and it was a great success with 900+ volunteers helping at over 100 project sites in the community. But the work was not what made an impact on me; it was the connections that I made while doing the work.
As part of the planning committee I got to work with the United Way team, the superintendent of the local school system, and high level leaders from banking, manufacturing, and retail in the community. The committee roster looked like a who’s who list of the county. This was networking on steroids. Very little happened in the county that these people or those they were well acquainted with were not involved in. This provided me with invaluable contacts that I have been able to utilize over the subsequent years for professional growth and personal connections.
Another key reason to volunteer is to understand the big picture of your community. If you are not active in the community, how can you know where you fit into it? Your organization serves the same population that you are helping on a volunteer basis, but how can you be sure that you have tapped the entire market if you don’t know where you fit in? By knowing each of the people on the team and their backgrounds and expertise, I was able to see how intricately woven the framework of the community actually was. We all interact on one level or another; many times we do not even realize it. With the community involvement that comes with volunteering you can help to make connections and gain a greater understanding that will grow the corporate presence in the community.
The final reason or “what’s in it for me” is the mentorship opportunity. After a few years I took the lead of the Day of Caring committee. With this lead role I worked directly with a high level leader in the banking industry in the county. We worked together to secure a couple of companies’ agreement to run charitable giving campaigns. The time I got to spend with her was a great opportunity to watch how she interacted with high level leaders in other companies. I was able to ask questions, learn how to approach other leaders, and get what I came for. In this case it was for a worthy cause; however, the same principles can be applied to the business of imaging.
So, Millennials, I hope you can now see what is in it for you and get involved. You will gain skills that you never thought you would have. You will also have a positive impact on your community and maybe even feel good about yourself. This past year was my third as the chair for the planning committee. We had just over 1200 volunteers. That is what a good leadership team can do.
Michael Jordan, MHA, CRA, RT(R) is the imaging manager at Carolinas Medical Center – Union in Monroe, NC. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.