In his recent post ‘How to give back to the profession’ long-time volunteer Russel Jamieson called for new passionate members to join APM’s Volunteering Steering Group (VSG) and add “some positive disruption” to the role. As someone who’s done just that, I thought I’d share my own positive experiences of the VSG and hopefully encourage others get involved, too.
I started volunteering for APM as a Graduate Ambassador in 2018. I visited schools and universities across London and the south east, introducing them to careers in project management and explaining my journey to chartership.
As a career mover coming from the legal profession, I was genuinely a bit clueless when I started as to what project management was really about. I found myself in a few situations where a little more guidance and support in those early days would have gone a long way. Being an education and outreach volunteer has helped me start plugging that gap for other early-career professionals.
Personally, I find this kind of volunteering incredibly fulfilling. Giving a presentation, responding to questions, building new connections; it’s all fun – but what’s really rewarding is when you see someone you connected with on LinkedIn following an event going on to secure their first project role and beginning their path into the exciting world of project management.
What has this got to do with the VSG?
My time on the VSG has been relatively short, having been appointed in October 2020. Since then, it has opened my eyes to all the extra work that goes on behind the scenes with APM to ensure that project professionals receive the support they need to help them excel in their careers. It’s also allowed me to get involved with new initiatives, for example getting early insights into the new APM Major project leadership specialist certificate, an APM Qualification, or understanding how APM is building its mentoring opportunities.
My volunteering experience has been somewhat different from a lot of the other VSG members as I’ve primarily been involved in education and outreach, as opposed to being involved in an APM specific interest group or APM branch. By being actively involved in the VSG I feel that I’ve been able to help make a difference in how we approach education and outreach and offer more support to those in a similar position to me who want to give back.
What have you done since joining the VSG?
I’ve attended meetings, contributed to discussions and voted on decisions. I’ve also had the opportunity to get involved in a wider sense as well. I was part of the Task & Finish Group for the 2021 Summer Volunteers’ Forum, which involved setting the agenda, hosting a (virtual) discussion session and then reviewing how all the sessions went after the event to feed lessons into future forums. Building on this, I was then involved in setting a strategy for the 2021 Winter Volunteers’ Forum, attending my first in-person event in nearly two years, and then hosting another discussion session.
It’s fair to say I may not have had exposure to these kinds of events prior to joining the VSG. Through them I have built some great personal connections and I’m starting to put into practice some of the new perspectives learned into my professional life.
Why is this important to me?
My reason for writing this is to try and show how the VSG isn’t restricted to a small, select, group of seasoned volunteers, but is open to all APM members with a passion for volunteering. The wider the range of experiences we have within the VSG, the more we can help shape APM and its volunteering community to better meet the needs of the profession. Don’t let your age or perceived level of experience be a blocker, if anything, see the VSG as an opportunity to help develop your professional experience whilst giving back at the same time.