While it can be tempting to bury your head in the sand these days, I challenge you to see this climate of political divisiveness as an opportunity for a fulfilling career transition. I, for one, have resolved to do one thing a week, however small, to ensure that my voice is heard, whether it’s volunteering, donating to a charity, or signing a position.
These small expressions can feel like a whisper in the dark but, over time, will make a difference. Taking the next step of offering your skills to a nonprofit, a social entrepreneurship venture, or a political cause can help illuminate places where your values and your vocation intersect. At a minimum, surrounding ourselves with a variety of individuals broadens our self-understanding and strengthens our network. Focusing on an issue we care about will deepen your understanding of the political processes and social forces that eventually effect change.
Every social movement was propelled at some point by anger or frustration. These feelings have the potential to either paralyze or motivate you. When we are told we cannot do something or feel threatened or neglected, aggravation can channel us to focus our goals, emboldening us with formidable determination. Yoga, meditation and exercise can work beautifully to expel the harmful effects of negativity and direct the increased adrenalin to a worthy cause.
Remember, many careers start by answering a calling to help others. Erin Brockovich, an office worker, became a clean water activist by involving herself in a litigation against PGE; Barbara Roberts, the mother of an under-served special-needs child, took action that put her on a path to become governor of Oregon. Even Gandhi led India’s resistance to British colonial rule after being thrown off a train by a British officer after refusing to move from first class.
Here are 7 steps to strategically steer your frustration towards a new potential career path:
1. Seek out a paid or volunteer position at a nonprofit, government entity, or political advocacy group that shares your values. You can search for a volunteer opportunity on VolunteerMatch.org that align with your skills and sensibilities.
2. Use your network on LinkedIn and elsewhere to learn about the organization's values.
3. Surf the web to check out their mission and if they have a track record of viable accomplishments.
4. Once your foot is in the door, be specific about the skills you want to build and actively take on projects with increased responsibility that show off your skills.
5. Network and share your career goals with the people you meet in this organization.
6. Take opportunities to represent the organization at events to give voice to your values and broaden your network in the community.
7. Ask the people with whom you work for recommendations both in print and on LinkedIn. Offer to reciprocate by writing a recommendation for them, too.
Remember Margaret Mead’s timeless quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” Even if you don't mean to change the world, some group of “thoughtful, committed citizens” is looking for someone just like you.
What are you waiting for?