Business Law

Volunteering Can Change Lives - Yours

Jackie Kilberg | |

Jackie Kilberg has been information professional for over 25 years. She has worked for PWC and is currently a research associate and corporate archivist for The McGraw-Hill Companies. You can contact Jackie through LinkedIn

Every May is global volunteer day at The McGraw-Hill Companies. Everyone in my office is gets excited about what project they are going to work on. What excites me is to watch the videos of the outcomes of these projects. Each video tells a wonderful story about a group of employees who have made a difference in people’s lives.

One of the projects I work on is assisting students at the Grace Institute. The Grace Institute provides tuition-free, practical job training for underserved New York area women. Several of the students attend a one day seminar at McGraw-Hill headquarters where they receive training on interviewing, resume writing, and job search techniques. I direct a group of those students to help them with assignments given out by the moderator during the day.

After the seminar held at McGraw-Hill last year, I went to Grace an hosted a session teaching students how to use business databases at the New York Public Library. Many students already had a library card and were eager to learn how to research companies, industries and fields of employment where they can use their skills. The director was so please that she asked if I could teach a course on business etiquette. I said no but my sister-in-law could which is now leading to a paid contractor position.

Another program I am involved with is my local preservation council. There I am collecting and digitizing historical material and oral histories for the council’s website. One of my most favorite volunteer stints was working my neighborhood school’s media center. I never worked in a school library before and enjoyed it thoroughly. So did my daughter who saw me shelve books every week.

The rewards in volunteering go beyond helping others, it can help us feel better as professionals. All of the projects I mentioned allowed me to use my skills for the good of others but it also forced me to work out of my comfort zone. For most of my career, I have worked in corporations. By volunteering, I gained experience in working in a non-profit environment. Another benefit to volunteering is gaining a new set of skills. When I volunteered at the school library, I learned to work with children which I thought I could never do.

So what is your story? I like to hear them and I know there rest of our chapter would too. Join in the discussion on LinkedIn, SLA NY Chapter. I know the SLA NY Chapter is always in need of volunteers so start today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Since losing my job last October, I have been volunteer with several organizations. I'm 'lucky' that thanks to my severance package and unemployment insurance I am able to pay the carfare and lunch expenses that go hand in hand with volunteering.

Along the way, I have met many nice individuals as well as not so nice persons. I have gained some library experience which as a 'career-switcher' I lacked. Overall my experience has been positive.

Yet I must caution those thinking of volunteering that they must walk a very narrow path. You are entering someone else's environment, therefore, you must think twice before acting.

You also have to be on your guard let's the organization, or staff, begins to take advantage of their free labor, aka volunteer's work. I left one library because of this situation. I was cleaning up the mistakes left by a paid employee. This situation was known to the staff, including the supervising librarian.

Finally, there is an organizational danger when organizations such as NYPL become used to having large groups of unpaid volunteers. There is a point in time when the organization should be hiring part time workers instead of continuing to rely on unpaid volunteers.