Volunteering, and 10 things I discovered when I was active with Junior Chamber International

Volunteering, and 10 things I discovered when I was active with Junior Chamber International

October 14, 2015 8:09 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

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Reflections from Sofie Sandell, JCI London President 2008, for the centenary of JCI

I’ve never felt that I got enough training and development in my life, so the fact that I joined the Junior Chamber International (JCI) network was not a surprise. JCI is a unique volunteer network for people in their 20s and 30s. It’s hard to explain in a couple of sentences, but you can get involved in projects and events and there is no limit to what you can do, really. One way to describe it is as a global movement promoting active citizenship.

JCI is present in more than 100 countries and this October it’s celebrating its 100th anniversary. Here I share some of the things I discovered about myself and others by being involved with JCI.

1) All change in the world starts with people and ends with people. At JCI you have the chance to attend and deliver leadership training and courses on debating and public speaking. It’s a pleasure to see people come out of their shells, where they used to hide, and start to find out what matters to them.

2) When you participate in a project with no monetary reward the energy you produce is on another level compared with a normal job. It’s as if the box of limiting beliefs holding you back is smaller and you dare to try out new things. I believe that new experiences are the best way to develop yourself and I also think you get more creative and imaginative mindsets by being active in the JCI.

3) Leadership skills are something that we can develop, or ignore. Leadership starts with you and then you learn from the people around you. JCI projects provide members with hundreds of leadership lessons every week. My interest in leadership prompted me to start a blog and later these thoughts became part of my book Digital Leadership.

4) Embracing the international side of JCI is fun and you meet people from all over the world. I remember a discussion about the environment and global warming I had with a JCI member from Nigeria at the United Nations office in Geneva during a leadership summit. We were comparing different outlooks and ways to look at environmental problems. Where else would I have had the opportunity to sit down and have a deep discussion about global issues with people from all over the world?

5) When you are part of JCI you can put yourself forward and be part of the board on the local, national and international levels. Being on the board gives you hands-on training in leadership, project management and communication and lots of opportunities for collaboration and knowledge exchange.

6) When people are committed with both their hearts and their minds the results will leave you with a great feeling of satisfaction. Working together towards a vision is a wonderful process and you are rewarded by a surge of dopamine and serotonin released by your brain.

7) At JCI, if there is a reason to celebrate there is always a big party or a black tie dinner. The biggest gala dinner I’ve been to took place at the Osaka Kyocera Dome, a sporting arena that’s big enough to host a baseball game or up to 5,000 dinner guests. 

Another skill that comes with JCI involvement is the ability to get changed and ready in five minutes when you are on your way to a party.

8) It was during my research for my bachelor thesis that I first met members of JCI. The subject of the thesis was whether you can develop yourself professionally through networking or not, and the answer to this question was a big yes. Knowing ‘who knows what’ is one of the aspects of networking. When you are part of the JCI community you are part of a global network.

9) At JCI hundreds of awards are given out every year. Submitting yourself or your team for an award is a way to look back at your achievements and by just writing them down you are celebrating what you’ve done once again. For some people awards matter hugely and I’m very pleased when I see hard work paying off.

10) For a sustainable future we need to care about the people and the environment we have around us. I’ve seen hundreds of community projects take place through JCI around the world. One thing that I’ve noticed is that once you have the JCI community spirit in you it stays with you for the rest of your life. Many members start other initiatives and their success is often down to the skills and confidence members gained from being involved in JCI.

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Thank you! Sofie

Sign up to Sofie’s Digital Leadership Inspiration newsletter

You can read more about JCI UK here and the global JCI movement. 

Sofie’s JCI Bio
Sofie Sandell started her JCI journey at JCI Göteborg, Sweden, and was JCI London President in 2008, JCI UK Marketing Director in 2009-2010, JCI UK Website Manager in 2011 and JCI London Ten Outstanding Young People Project Manager in 2012.

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This post was written by Rafael Tselikas

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