Do you feel the call to service but don't know where—or how to find the time—to start giving back? Jonathan Tisch, Loews Corporation executive and author of three books, including Citizen You: Doing Your Part to Change the World, says you can start by putting the skills you've learned in your job to good use. Unlock your volunteering potential with his five tips for "citizen professionals."
1. Apply Your Talents to a Social Cause
Whatever you do for a living, from accounting to cooking to teaching, there's a community organization that can use those skills to help make the world a better place. Why just be a nurse when you can become a citizen nurse? You may think you are too busy with your job to do good. You also may think making a difference is better left to saintly, self-sacrificing heroes like Mother Teresa and Florence Nightingale. But think again.
You have valuable talents that can be harnessed for a cause, even if it's just for a few minutes a day. Careers today are being reinvented in ways that benefit both the individuals who practice them and the society in which they live. There's a new way of thinking about work that satisfies the desire for self-advancement and personal benefit, as well as the latent idealism so many people have learned to suppress or ignore. That's what being an engaged professional is all about.
2. Find Ways to Get Your Workplace Involved in Social Activism
More and more companies are now practicing good citizenship. How can yours provide support to worthy causes through donations of time, talent, goods or services? Start by re-examining your occupation's ethical code or professional standards, or your employer's mission statement or professional standards. Think about a small way you can help lead fellow employees to follow these standards more proactively. Consider how you can help everyone in your profession to start thinking like citizen professionals and applying their professional skills to address social problems that could benefit from those skills.
If your line of work doesn't already have a recognized code of conduct or ethical standards, consider writing one. It should embody your personal ethical values and encapsulate how those values are expressed in the work you do. Share your effort with a couple of like-minded colleagues. It may stimulate some lively discussion about what you can do to incorporate social benefits into your daily work.
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