Pay it forward: my volunteer experience with Professional Women's Group Zurich
Updated: Mar 15
Who am I?
Am I a connector, a networker, a builder, a doer with a heart for creating and co-creating meaningful experiences for my communities?
Yes, maybe all of them, but I try not to put myself in a box. By doing that, there is not too much space for growth.
How it all started
In late April 2019, I moved to Switzerland with a backpack full of ideas and the desire to change my career and discover new horizons. I had the chance to meet wonderful people from different local communities and dive into the fascinating world of volunteering.
After a few different projects, I was wondering what should I do with this experience and knowledge of different ecosystems.
And my choice was to join Professional Women's Group Zurich board in 2020 who was looking for Event Managers and Content Marketers.
What was supposed to be an in-person event management position transformed in time in a very engaging role.
Crafting my ideal role
It sometimes goes like this: we take on a role and, if we are lucky, we are given the opportunity to craft it, develop it, embrace it.
And I took it very seriously: it's not because it's a volunteer position, we should not treat it with engagement and dedication.
So, I started by listening and observing the needs of the organization and, then, I used my experience to help there where it was needed: starting online events in March 2020, choosing the online tool for that, connecting with local speakers, developing a network and starting sustainable partnerships.
Strengths in action
Volunteering is a mix of your expertise with the desire to learn new things and not being afraid to test, fail, and learn some more.
I started playing on my strengths, but little I knew that I soon would be faced with challenges that I didn't expect: online meetings, learning WordPress and Zoom, using Slack, having to moderate events, do presentations, and communicating with people and organizations.
Coming with a background as a project manager in multicultural and European organizations, I thought I was equipped to take on every challenge. And I was, but now I know that every team is different and trust and connection aren't built in a day.
What I found (and I feel so grateful for the PWG onboarding process and the whole communication style) is a group of highly-skilled women with whom I share the same values: collaboration, open communication, constructive feedback, and passion for supporting other women in their personal and professional development.
It's not easy to juggle a professional life, personal commitments, and volunteer activities, there are moments when you simply don't have enough time in a day.
But this is also part of the path we choose to take and I feel so inspired when I look around and I see my colleagues doing it all.
Show me the money
We often think that non-profits don't need funds, that they run by magic.
That's not true, there are a lot of expenses, and self-running organizations like PWG are doing an excellent job in managing the money and using the opportunity to join a few women causes that are dear to our hearts.
The gift of writing reviews
If you like our events and you are touched by our speakers' stories and experiences, give them reviews, talk about them with your friends and colleagues, show your gratitude on social media.
Give them the gift of being appreciated and recognized for their expertise and passion.
Message in a bottle
My journey as a board member is coming to an end by February.
I leave PWG in very passionate and capable hands, but I will continue as a member to support and connect with my community.
Well, that's a story for another article.
Be well, be strong, be connected!