Treat your PRSA volunteer service as seriously as your paid work

By Tom Unger, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA

Oregon Chapter Volunteer Coordinator (and past chapter president)

Second in a two-part series.

If you decide to volunteer for PRSA or any other community organization, I have a few words of advice that will hopefully help you make the most of your experience.

But first, let’s take a step back. Think about why you’re volunteering. Do you want to meet more communications professionals and enlarge your network? Are you seeking connections that could lead to your next job? Do you want to expand your knowledge base, gain valuable experience or learn new skills? Is it simply because you’re a good-hearted person and want to help others?

Whichever reason you choose to volunteer, remember this: you’ll probably collaborate with other professionals who don’t witness your superstar skills daily in your workplace. The only opportunity others will have to form an impression about you is from your volunteer service.

Since that’s the case, I recommend you approach your volunteer service as seriously as your paid job. Here are four tips for succeeding as a volunteer:

  1. Timeliness – You wouldn’t show up late for work, so don’t show up late for a volunteer committee meeting. When you’re late, it impacts all the other volunteers in the meeting.
  1. Quality – Make sure the quality of the work you produce as a volunteer is as great as the work you produce in your paid job. The writing, event planning or strategic planning you complete as a volunteer might be the only example of your talents seen by other volunteers. So make sure it’s not sub-par.
  1. Deadlines – Don’t ever miss them. Period. 
  1. Commitment – Bring the same level of commitment to volunteering as you do to your paid work. If you raise your hand to join a project team, don’t quit that team before the work is completed.

PRSA members often turn to other members for job references and leads. Make sure when you volunteer, you shine every time. The last thing you want is to be viewed by others in our profession as someone who’s undependable or can’t produce quality work on time.

I hope you’ll consider volunteering for our chapter. There are so many different opportunities. Want to know more? Reach out to me at (503) 213-0327 or

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