Something I’ve learned from my service year is…
I like to think of myself as a constant learner—a student of my personal and professional lives. Being a student implies a certain openness to new ideas, experiences, and skills. Plus, it's an acknowledgement that you are not the expert. Navigating a professional environment where you have to become an expert, or at the very least exude an air of accomplishment, can thus be quite daunting to a young professional.
In a recent LinkedIn course titled, "Job Search Strategies," I learned blogs and Twitter are now considered platforms for promoting one's own brand of expertise. Despite being a Millennial, neither has garnered much attention from me. I dipped my toes into the blogging world during my study abroad, but stopped writing after visiting Dachau. No topic felt appropriate to discuss after being so emotionally drained by the concentration camp.
Anyway, I technically *have* a Twitter account, but honestly created one so my phone would stop suggesting I do so. My preference for at least the semblance of privacy on social media also limits my following to friends and family, not necessarily the springboard to a popular, professional feed. Maybe it's time to give Twitter a better try.
Trying new things. . .
Before December 15th, I had never worked in a wood studio. Thanks to the AirBnB challenge, "Step Outside Your Comfort Zone," I got to participate in one of their Social Impact Experiences for FREE! These Social Impact Experiences are a new feature to their product line where hosts (in this case nonprofits) not only lead a group or individual in some kind of activity, but also garner all the proceeds. The nonprofit I chose to support is Rebuilding Exchange (@rxchicago), which diverts building materials from landfills and provides job training to individuals experiencing employment barriers.
RX's mission couldn't be a better fit for my values, but also the values I share with my placement, Faith in Place. We are leading proponents of the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA)—a state-level law that funds solar energy job creation. Part of the funding is reserved for returning citizens and foster care alumni, two populations with significant barriers to employment. RX also constructed our cubicles, a fact my colleagues and I are very proud to share. Naturally, I was thrilled to connect with RX personally and make something of my own.
You can see in my picture below the cutting board I left with. Though, that wasn't the only thing to leave the shop that night. Carrie, the instructor, and her colleagues were so kind and supportive that I honestly had one of the best Friday nights in a long time! We spent quite a bit of time picking out a good piece of ash. When we found this one with its massive knot and nice thickness, the RX team knew the final product would be stunning. I trusted them. Carrie guided me through each step of the process, but it wasn't until the final sanding and oiling that brought out the true beauty of the wood.
I left feeling proud for making a usable piece of art, for braving some power tools, and for finding contentment and connection with incredible people who share similar passions within the larger framework of social justice.