How Can You Benefit from Volunteering?


As a young professional, it is very easy to get caught up in the 9 to 5 routine. Two weeks, after starting my new job, I felt empty… what was missing in my life? During a conversation with one of my girlfriend, she mentioned, “Aren’t you always volunteering somewhere? You should really get back to that.” She was right. I’ve probably clocked in more volunteering hours during my college career than the combined student bodies at both of the universities I attended. Of course, I am exaggerating, but you get the point.

Naturally, when a friend of mine mentioned her “Beautiiful” prom drive a couple of months ago, I immediately jumped on the opportunity to do what brings me the most joy; that is: helping, networking and being a social butterfly.

By deciding to participate in the prom drive, I joined a team of professional women from various industries. They included PR consultants, fashion stylists, makeup artists, bloggers,graphic designers, and events marketing specialists, among other professions. Together, our witty personalities, go-getter attitudes, strong work ethic, and personal strengths contributed to an environment shaped by an inherent focus on empowerment (of each other and of others), and actively pursuing the completion of our goal – organizing and hosting a pop-up prom shop for girls unable to afford the luxuries that accompany prom night.

Beautiiful Team

Beautiiful Team (L-R) : Jocelyn Pizarro, Nathalie Cazeau, Autumn Johnson, Amanda Clarke, Nicolette Tucker , Raven Robinson.

After four months of preparation, we were able to stage a successful prom drive on April 30, 2014, during which we displayed over 300+ dresses, donated by generous individuals who sought to invest in our mission.That night, we succeeded in helping 150 New York City area students find their dream prom outfit. The successful completion of this project not only helped forge a deeply-rooted bond among a group of aware young professionals, but it also reawakened in me the desire to help.

With that being said, you may be wondering what kind of benefits accompany volunteerism. Why should you should you volunteer? Below are four reasons why I think everyone should make an effort to H.E.L.P:

Have an impact! The thought of putting aside your wants and needs to bring joy to someone’s life or help a community in need speaks volumes. No matter the amount of time or effort you invest in helping, you are making a big difference. Find something you’re passionate about and get involved; volunteering offers a way to have a real and lasting impact.

Expand your network While organizing the Beautiiful prom drive, I have been interacting with individuals from various industries. Meeting people from all walks of life is one of the benefits you get from volunteering. You never know who you might meet and what new information you might learn that could impact your life.

Learn new skills Coordinating and planning a fundraising event can allow for the acquisition of budgeting, supervisory and training skills. The possibilities and opportunities are endless, and many of these skills are transferable.

Practice Balance Practicing balance is being reminded to be grateful for what you have. Too often we get lost in superficial things, especially when we enter the professional world. As a result, we miss out on opportunities to reach out and give back to the same communities that have shaped us.

Let me know how you are becoming more involve in your community. Be sure to  check out your local non-profits organizations and find out how you can assist them.

Follow me on Twitter: @NatDiary

Post College Cheat Sheet

Now what


The night of graduation, Kanye’s “Good Morning” played over and over in my head:

Good morning, look at the valedictorian, Scared of the future while I hop in the DeLorean. Scared to face the world, complacent career student.Some people graduate, but we still stupid.”

Graduation, for me, was a bittersweet moment. I realized that stepping into the “real world” meant an alteration in my social life; no more late night hangouts, no more stints at the Bender Library, and a limited interaction with the friends I’d made here. Moreover, it meant that I had to prepare myself to embark on a professional and personal journey. Was I ready to “face the world,” as Kanye put it? Probably not, but I was willing to give it a try.

So, before the class of  2014 embarks on this post-college  journey, remember firstly that everything will be alright, remind yourself that everyday. Take a look at the “Post-College Cheat Sheet” that I’ve come up with (below).I can’t guarantee you that this cheat will be a quick road to success, but it will certainly help along the way.

Life is not meant to be easy, and  if it is you’re probably not challenging yourself.

Write yourself a letter.  ”Seeing your goal written in ink, on paper will have a powerful effect on your mind” – Unknown

Jotting down your goals or expectations of yourself can  be the road map to your successful journey. Whether you decide to write a self-reflection or just a simple letter emphasizing where you envision yourself  in the next week/month or year can be beneficial to your growth.

Value your time. This means that you should be wary of engaging in activities and with people who do not benefit your personal and professional growth. Time well spent with great company  is never wasted. So, yes; be picky with your time and in choosing your friends or new acquaintances.

Learn to forgive! It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth doing. Learning how to forgive someone is the biggest gift you can give yourself. There is simply no value in holding grudges.

Network Upward, Downward and Sideways. Networking should be done across the board. You really don’t know where your next opportunity will come from. So  keep in mind the following:

– Connect with your peers and attend FREE networking workshops/panels within your industry.

– Keep in contact

–  Study your elevator speech like your life depends on it

– Let your passion speak for itself

– Create a LinkedIn account and familiarize yourself with the tool

Learn to embrace rejection. We often regard rejection as a sign of failure when in actuality it’s the universe way of telling you that ” you’re not ready”  or ” this is not the time.”   So don’t take it personal.

Save/Manage your money. If you haven’t been doing so, NOW is the time to start.There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing that you have some funds with which to support yourself or simply to fall back on.  Teach yourself how to save, schedule an appointment with a financial advisor. More information on financial planning coming soon.

Do things that make you happy!  I love music, museums, concerts and people! I am at my best when I’m surrounded by people who love and understand me.Find what makes You happy.

Stop comparing yourself to others.  Comparison is the thief of joy, just that simple. Focus on what you’re doing, what you have and trust me, you’ll be content.

Be Thankful! You might have a bad day, or the interview you went to didn’t go so well, but guess what you’re still alive and your family and friends still love and support you. Just remember to always keep your eyes on the prize.