Oprah Winfrey once said, “Do what you love, give it back in the form of service, and you will do more than succeed.” Since graduating from Syracuse University almost three years ago, I’ve been working toward my goal of finding life’s sweet spot: the intersection of my passions and purpose. While it hasn’t always been easy (and I have had my share of a few minor setbacks) I’ve continue to learn so much about myself and from others in the process. Moving to Washington, D.C. in the summer of 2011 was truly the start of something new: I was making friends, interning at an awesome PR firm, and experiencing the sights and sounds of a brand new city. Little did I know that the baby steps I had begun to take would lay the foundation of my love for philanthropy and communications.
My career thus far has allowed me use my communications skills to advocate for causes that I am interested in – meet my passion. From education and healthcare, to technology and nonprofit, I’ve built a solid resume of experiences all the while impacting the lives of others through service – meet my purpose. The most connected I’ve been to achieving this was during my AmeriCorps experience with Higher Achievement DC Metro. As the Alumni Outreach VISTA, I worked directly with high school alumni of the after-school program, and built partnerships with community organizations in order to provide the students with academic and social opportunities so that they could thrive long after their days in Higher Achievement. I also worked with the communications manager to give the organization a stronger voice on social media, which was a very rewarding experience. Being a VISTA taught me a number of things, but it revealed to me most I’ve got a heart to serve, and I must make that an integral part of my career.
During my year of AmeriCorps service, I also became involved with other organizations in the D.C. area. My work with Capital Cause has enhanced my teamwork and partnership building skills; my board position with First Book-DC allowed me to flex my social media muscles in building awareness around the importance of children’s literacy; and my involvement with the local chapter of Levo League has strengthened my leadership and event planning skills, and broadened my network of young women professionals in the area. Each of these examples have come into my life at their own unique time, but have allowed me to challenge myself in new and exciting ways to give back to my community. They have also inspired me to encourage my fellow millennials to push themselves to discover what it is that they love, and how they can do it every day.
While it’s great to have that 9-to-5 just to stay alive, I think it is also so important to have an outlet in which to express yourself creatively. For me, it is writing for my personal blog – Young, Gifted & Precise – say hello to the sweet spot. As a 20-something trying to navigate her way through a world of friendships, jobs, student loan payments and non-stop media, I’ve used my blog not only as a way to share my story, but to connect with my fellow millennials to gain their insight on similar challenges. It’s sometimes tough to remain consistent, but is giving me the opportunity to become a better writer, and learn more on how to market to the millennial audience. This is just one way in which I have found one of life’s many sweet spots (achieving my dream career is next). It truly brings me joy to write, and I just hope that my love for the craft will encourage someone to take a chance on themselves to be greater than they were the day before.
To my fellow millennials trying to find the sweet spot: Don’t be afraid to step out on faith and live the life you’ve always imagined. Take risks. Have conversations with new people. Re-connect with old classmates, co-workers and family friends. And most importantly, GIVE BACK TO YOUR COMMUNITY. It’s so easy to walk around big cities like New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles and get caught up in the (struggle) lap of luxury. But trust me – you will receive the most fulfillment in spending time helping others. Whether it is mentoring middle school kids once a week or serving food at your local homeless shelter, make sure you get in touch with your community through some form of service. You never know how your service to the community can elevate your professional career, and even help you discover passions you never thought you had.
Written by Chastity Cooper
A PR and social media marketing strategist based out of Washington, D.C., Chasity Cooper hopes to one day become a fierce combination of Olivia Pope, Michelle Obama and Claire Huxtable.
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