When I was early in my career I discovered the catch-22 of gaining leadership experience: to be selected for a leadership position I needed to show I already had some previous leadership experience.
So I had to get creative to break the cycle and get my feet wet. If you find yourself facing the same situation, check out where I found my first leadership experience as well as some other opportunities you may not have thought of:
1. Your Workplace Giving Campaign– This is where I got my start by volunteering to head up the Combined Federal Campaign for my agency. It’s a job that no one wants to do, but is critically important to the millions of beneficiaries of services that are provided by charities with funds donated through workplace giving. By volunteering to lead this effort at my agency I practiced nearly every Executive Core Qualification:
- Met top executives and networked with other employees in every unit of my agency (building coalitions),
- Practiced my public speaking, writing, and business skills (business acumen),
- Implemented process improvements and innovative solutions to obstacles (leading change),
- Coordinated decentralized efforts and brought the agency together for a common purpose (leading people), and
- Showed my boss that I can be relied upon to get things done (results-driven).
All while doing something I personally believe in. Win-win.
2. Young Professional Nonprofit Groups – What better way to illustrate a commitment to public service than volunteering for a cause you care about? Even better, many nonprofit orgs have established affiliate young professional groups. A couple of local DC ones (they may have other chapters!) I know of are: Friends of the National Zoo Young Professionals Club, Making Strides for MS, and United Way Emerging Leaders.
3. Workplace-Affiliated Organizations– My agency has several affiliate orgs that are always looking for eager participants including a Toastmaster’s Chapter and several special emphasis programs such as the Federal Women’s Program.
4. Open Opportunities in DigitalGov– I just learned about this cool platform by GSA where Feds can complete tasks and projects that will allow you to broaden your skills and experience and beef up your resume.
Help add to my list; where else can those starting out in their careers gain leadership experience?
Christine McMahon is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.