Volunteering Opens Doors To Opportunity

Photo of someone walking through an open door.

Very simply put, I would not be who or where I am today were it not for my commitment to various volunteer activities, especially with PRSA, over the years.

In my previous life as a PR professional, I moved a fair number of times…10 to be exact, in 25 years.

  • The upside was that I have had a chance to see and do a lot more than my entire family down home in Georgia have experienced in their collective lives.
  • The downside was that, on average, every three years I had to start all over, making new friends, learning a new job, etc., etc.

One thing remained a constant throughout all those years, though…I got involved in volunteer activities as soon as I settled in. And I got a lot of support from others who, themselves, were involved as volunteers.

Job leads? Yep. Friendships? Absolutely. A feeling of belonging? Every single time.

The most valuable connection by far has been my association with PRSA for the past 30+ years.

  • Two very cool private sector jobs as a direct result of PRSA connections.
  • Scores of friends around the world as a direct result of PRSA involvement.
  • Opportunities by the trainload to hone my public relations as well as my management skills thanks to PRSA volunteer duties and responsibilities.

Most important, at this stage in my life, today I am teaching the next generation(s) of PR pros as a direct result of my volunteer positions with PRSA, in particular the Boston Chapter.

I didn’t ask to teach. I was asked to teach by others who…to quote…“got your name” from [a PRSA Boston educator-member]. As a member of our local chapter, I had gotten involved on committees and on the board of directors from the get-go. Met a ton of people, including a wide variety of educators, full- and part-time and forged friendships.

It started at the beginning of the “new millennium.” I was back in Boston following an awesome three-year sojourn in the Aloha State of Hawaii and…thanks to a very bad employment decision…“exploring other opportunities.”

My phone rang. A PRSA Boston member/professor/friend from a local college was calling with an offer to teach a course.

Not a week later, the phone rang again…the department chair from another college…with an offer to teach a course… “got your name from a colleague (also a PRSA Boston member/professor/friend).”

This scenario repeated itself three more times, each conversation initiating with the now-familiar “got your name…”

Bottom line here…I owe a lot of PRSA members/friends for their kindness and support in the past, so I continue to volunteer to “give back” for that kindness and support.

But I also feel I have an obligation to sustain that tradition and “pay it forward” to help others who turn to those who of us who they have met through their own PRSA affiliation.

None of this has been or will be done from a sense of onerous “duty.” Rather, it’s from a deeply-held sense of appreciation for the countless benefits I have realized thanks to my PRSA membership and volunteer activities.

As our motto says so very well…“PRSA – Advancing the profession and the professional.”

About the author

Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA

Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, is Associate Professor of Communication (Undergraduate) at Curry College in Milton, MA. Prior to his move into academia, Kirk practiced nonprofit and government public relations and marketing for more than 35 years in the US as well as Asia. Accredited by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Kirk was inducted into PRSA’s prestigious College of Fellows in 2009 and is one of just two actively-teaching college professors in Massachusetts to have earned this distinction. You can read more of Kirk’s musings at his blog “A Professor’s Thought” and follow him on Twitter @KirkHazlett.

Leave a Comment