By Egotist / /
Originally posted on the Mediacross Blog.
This past August, I was looking for an opportunity. I wanted something I could do outside of my office walls to affect my community in a positive way. Being a designer, most of my opportunities are presented in the form of doing pro bono work, normally by myself, and wearing multiple hats I am not used to wearing—seriously, I always appreciate those awesome account service people! As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I came across something different. It was a sponsored ad for Ready + Willing.
Ready + Willing (RW) is a nonprofit whose mission is to bring together industry professionals in the St. Louis area in order to provide marketing and advertising assistance to other nonprofits. Think of them like a general manager in baseball, assembling the correct team of volunteers for a nonprofit that suits them.
Knowing only this, I set out on my 12-week journey working with a team of individuals whom I had never met before, for a company I had just become familiar with. After a brief nervous period, I was amazed by what I experienced. Different people from different companies all coming together, chatting and being so into, not just the nonprofit we were assigned, but what we could do to help. Each of our personalities and skill-sets came out immediately with each idea being thrown out. It was after this first meeting when I knew I made the right decision in signing up. I really think that working in a team under these circumstances is hard to describe in a single blog post. So much work, compromise and thought went into each decision. However, I can share what I found most rewarding about my time this fall in RW.
In a world full of deadlines, obligations, workflows and negotiations, it can be easy to lose sight of why you do what you do. The feeling of exhaustion and sometimes even repetition can start to drain you of what you’re passionate about. But working for a nonprofit that is in need of assistance and appreciative to receive it, really helps you gain a healthy prospective of where you are in your career. It can serve as a reminder that you have a responsibility to give back to those who don’t have access to the skills you may take for granted.
If you watch reality TV at all, you know that throwing a bunch of different people, who have never met in a group together usually leads to all sorts of disagreements and drama. But with this, nothing could be further from the truth. From the beginning of our sessions, everyone not only respected each other’s skills, but also were focused on one thing: What can we do to help our client? This led to a flow of ideas and a crushing of deadlines that not only made connections and bred confidence throughout the team, but the momentum also made us want to exceed expectations. We all consistently fed off of this energy, and I think everyone left this 12-week session a little more confident and well connected than when they began.
Possibly the biggest thing to take out of the RW experience, is the power of positivity. It manifested in several ways. The first was not losing sight of the good your work does. Yes, it can boost awareness, increase sales and build a portfolio. However, for me, the best feeling was seeing someone enjoy your design, and feeling like their idea has been made better because of something you did. Keeping this idea in mind can have an AMAZING effect on both you and your work. You’re putting something out into the world, and when it has a positive message behind it, the work will almost always do what it was intended to. The second, is doing Work That Matters. Work that focuses on benefiting others and doing work with integrity. Doing meaningful work is something that I am thankful to be familiar with, since it is a value MediaCross has pursued for so long. Finding clients and nonprofits that contribute to the world is so important for building confidence and keeping spirits high. When you feel good and proud of what you do, and who you do it for, it makes for a powerful combination. This boost in morale and feeling of doing something for someone else gives you a feeling of great pride.
As professionals, we are capable of doing so much. We work hard to play hard, and sometimes we can get exhausted by our lives on the go. However, giving back by using your talents might be that thing that can both reinvigorate you, and provide others with quality work that matters.
By James Fruth