4 Ways to Give Back (& Get Ahead) This Summer

Architects of Change

Jenni Luke 250x250
Jenni Luke, Executive Director, Step Up Women's Network





By Jenni Luke

Many businesses have “summer Fridays” or reduced hours during the summer months.  Seize the opportunity created by a relaxed summer workplace environment to volunteer.  Volunteering can be a great way to build your professional skills while benefitting those around you. 


  1. Clean up your neighborhood. The summer is the perfect time to visit your local parks and beach spot, so why not enlist your friends or professional network to clean up these recreational areas?  You could even push for a company-sponsored day where you make a positive impact on your local community – and show it how much you – and your company -- care.
  2. Organize community get-togethers to benefit charity. If your community has an end-of-summer barbeque or block party, why not harness that collective energy to benefit a local charity?  Ask local businesses if they can donate a service or product -- then raffle off those services and products.  It’s a win-win: raffle ticket sales support the charity, and the local businesses get free marketing.  Bringing this kind of business savvy to your community can help your neighbors weather these challenging times and build a sense of purpose around your event. 
  3. Mentor. Does your company have an internship program?  Offer to be a mentor to your summertime colleagues.  Does your local community center need industry experts to teach a class?  Challenge yourself to teach; not only will you expand your professional skill set, but you will also give back to the next generation of professionals.
  4. Get ahead by volunteering. Volunteering can be incredibly rewarding -- and can lead you to people you would never have met otherwise.  If that volunteer work happens to be aligned with your passion or your job, all the better – you’re now doing professional networking. If you’re in the construction industry, help build homes for Habitat for Humanity. If you do PR or marketing and want to help find a cure for breast cancer, spread the word about your local Race for the Cure. At Step Up Women’s Network, you can volunteer as a mentor and network at the same time – our programming connects you to the professional women you need and the underserved teen girls who need you.

The complaint I most often hear from potential volunteers is that they don’t have the time to give.  Challenge yourself to use some of your extra time this summer to give back -- it will have an impact on your community and will hopefully inspire you to continue volunteering long after your tan has faded.

Jenni Luke is executive director of Step Up Women's Network, a national nonprofit membership organization based in Los Angeles. Previously, Jenni served as the director of development for The Alliance for Children's Rights and most recently, the ACLU of Southern California. Jenni holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Colorado School of Law and a BA from UC San Diego.

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