Being in an MBA program from a top-ranked school while pursuing a career adds complexity to your life — there is no getting around that. Time management becomes more important than ever, and maintaining balance while you juggle schoolwork, your career and your personal life becomes more challenging.
With all these commitments, making time to give back and stay involved in your community can be tough. Hands-on volunteering through a religious or community organization, like Habitat for Humanity, can be a rewarding way to give back. It also gives you the opportunity to see the direct impact you can make, even if you have limited time or resources to share. Another option is to use the professional skills and knowledge you are gaining with UNC Kenan-Flagler’s incredible MBA curriculum.
I joined an organization called Catchafire in August and was matched to my first project in September — creating a pitch deck for an adoption and foster care mentoring organization to recruit donations, volunteers and board members. Catchafire matches professionals with projects based on personal interests, skills and talents, and provides support to both pro bono volunteers and organizations seeking assistance. It trains organizations on how to realistically scope projects and efficiently and effectively engage volunteers. It also provides ongoing support for the volunteers to ensure positive and productive experiences.
The Catchafire application and match process is completely web-based, and I browsed projects based on the mission of the organization, the skills necessary to complete the project, as well as the amount of time to complete the project. I selected a project that required an estimated eight to 24 hours over two months. Upon accepting the project, I spoke with the project coordinator, who extended the deadline to accommodate my schedule. The organization is based in Boston, and we have worked together virtually, which is a skill that MBA@UNC students master early in the program!
I have found it challenging at times to fit the project into my schedule, but helping an organization that does great things is extremely rewarding. I also found it exciting to use the skills from my professional background as well as skills I am developing as I complete my MBA.
I highly recommend giving back through skills-based volunteer work, whether you fit it in while you are earning your MBA or after you graduate. Due to lack of resources, budget constraints and overwhe
lming demand, nonprofits often need help from professionals who can volunteer their skills and time. If you already have a relationship with a nonprofit, reach out to them and see if they have projects or organizational needs with which you can help.
UNC Kenan-Flagler is equipping us with incredible knowledge and skills that will benefit us in our careers, but think about how great a difference you can make to an organization in need. I am glad I did.
About Megan Schneider: Megan has six years of experience in a variety of organizational development, marketing and fundraising-positions in the US and abroad with community-oriented firms, such as SW Global, an African technology company in Ghana, and not-for-profit organizations such as the ALS Association and Canadian Cancer Society. She is now a marketing consultant for the Futures Company, working with clients to understand the consumer landscape and unlock new sources of growth within their business. Megan also continues to freelance with international organizations to help them grow their marketing and communications efforts.