Heather McKissick has spent most of her career with not-for-profit organizations, and she knows a thing or two about leveraging your volunteering experience to get ahead at the workplace. She is currently the Senior Vice President of Community Impact with UFCU and has been a Young Women’s Alliance advisory board member for over five years.
Heather doesn’t think that people have to choose between a career that is either lucrative or fulfilling; contrary to popular belief, it’s possible to have both. She shared the concept of “ikigai”, a Japanese word that loosely translates into “reason for being”. The ikigai diagram can help us recognize the overlap between our interests, skills, opportunities, and utility.
Some people develop passions early in life, but not everyone. One way to help clarify your cause is to start where you are and follow your curiosity. Often being curious and wanting to learn more about a topic develops into a passion.
Austin has more non-profits than restaurants and gas stations combined (nearly 6,000)! There are plenty of opportunities to explore potential passions throughout the city.
Heather recommends creating a personal development plan to identify the skills you have already and those you want to improve. Since non-profit organizations are historically understaffed, volunteer for a specific role that will benefit the organization and help you become competent in a new area. Serving on boards, planning events, and managing budgets are all examples of possible new skills that might not be available to you in your current job. In interviews and performance reviews, count these experiences the same as you would for an accomplishment in your full-time gig.
If you’re not sure where to start, ask those in your network where they volunteer and see if any of those spark interest. You can also search for local organization through Mission Capital, I Live Here, I Give Here, and Leadership Austin.