When I moved back to the DC area two years ago, I started looking for ways to get involved in the local community. I wanted to do something where not only my hands would be helpful, but somewhere that I could use my skills and my expertise. I figured using my non-profit fundraising expertise would be a natural fit, but I wasn't able to find a good fit in my area.
Volunteering local is one thing - but volunteering local where your knowledge and expertise are put to direct use? That's a different kind of reward entirely.
I finally found a good fit when I recalled my mother volunteering with Junior Achievement when I was in school, and what a great experience that had been for her. Being self-employed, I reached out directly to the volunteer coordinators, to make sure my name was on their list the next time they needed volunteers.
I jumped at the first opportunity that came my way - the 2018 JA Entrepreneurship Summit. The summit is a five day program for high school students to respond to a business challenge, and work with teams to develop solutions that they ultimately pitch Shark Tank-style. Along the way they get coaching from experienced professionals and learn about lean start-up, customer discovery, supply chain management, marketing, and financial management. It's truly an incredible program.
On the first day, I worked with a group of ten students, leading the marketing efforts for their companies. Without any background in marketing, these students crafted a marketing strategy from scratch - identifying the multiple audiences they'd need to reach, key messages for those audiences, and their priority advertising channels. It was incredible to see them asking smart questions and learning new information right within the span of just a couple of hours.
On the second day, I participated on a panel with several other volunteers to help the teams practice their pitch presentations. They boiled down their entire week of work to a five minute pitch
All the students did an amazing job, and I felt fortunate for the opportunity to work with them. They are truly building the skills that could make them future entrepreneurs!