OutGrowth Founder, Anna Fitzgibbon, first met Maggie Holsten when they were Volunteer Coordinators on a New York project at Break A Difference in the summer of 2017. Maggie's drive, dedication and leadership continue to impress as her roles at Break A Difference evolve and expand. Completely and wholeheartedly dedicated to doing good, Maggie is an inspiration to professionals everywhere.
In this rapid-fire Q+A, we learn a bit about how Maggie got to where she is today. In her En Root feature this month, Fulfillment Through Service, Maggie talks about the power of a career in social impact. You don't want to miss learning about all she is up to. Happy reading!
Social Impact has become somewhat of a "buzzy" concept. What does social impact mean to you? Social impact to me is doing anything that will have a lasting positive effect on others. This can be through a financial contribution, in-kind donation, act of service, or advocacy.
Tell us about your professional journey to date. How have you remained dedicated to socially-conscious business? I left a bougie corporate job to look for more meaningful work. Since starting with my current organization, Break A Difference, I've had the opportunity to work with thousands of volunteers from socially-conscious businesses, at hundreds of nonprofit and service organizations across the country.
At OutGrowth, we are committed to giving access. Talk to us about your take on the importance of supporting social initiatives within business, and how you believe this concept of access plays a role. Corporate Social Responsibility is a growing trend, especially in my line of work. At this point, most major corporations have some sort of CSR program in place, however, oftentimes employees do not know how to get involved, if they are allowed a certain number of volunteer hours per month, etc. Once a company has a CSR department or team that can effectively communicate this information, the challenge then becomes making volunteer projects accessible to the employees. This may mean coordinating transportation to an off-site location, or bringing a project to them, inside their corporate office space.
Tell us about a pinnacle point or moment when your experience with a socially-minded business or initiative had an impact on your personal or professional life. We have a client that holds an annual volunteer day for their entire NYC office, which ends up being about 400 employee volunteers. 2018 was my first year coordinating that project, and I was amazed at what we were able to achieve in a single day. We completely repainted the interior of a Boys & Girls Club, and revitalized their playground. We also transformed a community garden to give them more usable space for planting and community programs.
How did this experience change the course of your life, your career or your outlook? Seeing the reactions of the Boys & Girls Club staff and the community garden members made me feel really proud to have been a part of planning the day. It also made me feel really good about being on this career path. We often face challenges when planning volunteer experiences, so when things get tough, I try to think of that end result, and remember that it will all be worth it in the end.
What are your top three pieces of advice for students and professionals who may be struggling to find ways to create social impact in their own lives? How can they weave this into their current positions, businesses, communities and systems? 1. Start Small - Start with your local community or school. You don't need to make a huge splash to create ripples.
2. Make Mistakes - It's going to happen whether you like it or not, so be prepared to fail, again and again. Nothing worth having comes easy, and you'll learn that your failures will teach you more than your successes.
3. Always Go the Extra Mile - Whether it's following up on an event with a thank you email, or going out of your way to pick up a specific item for the project, always put extra thought into your work. People will remember.
If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be? Volunteer more! Volunteering has offered me a variety of experiences and connections. I wish I did it more while I was in school.
What is your favorite quote? "If I can't change the world, I'll change the world within my reach." - Catie Curtis
Based on your professional experience, what are the top three career competencies that you believe can be gained/developed from more fully engaging with socially-conscious businesses? In other words, socially-conscious business are ideal spaces for developing which types of transferable career skills? 1. Communication - Being able to form relationships with stakeholders and communicate information effectively
2. Creativity - Problem-solving skills and thinking outside the box
3. Compromise - You'll work with different types of people, each with different interests and expectations. Find the common ground where everyone wins.
What's next? What are your next steps toward growth in 2020? I have a new team working with me, which will allow me more time to focus on professional development. I'm hoping to gain more skills in project development, and learn how to take new ideas from paper to practice.
Maggie Holsten is the Manager of Service Project Development at Break A Difference. She works to plan and implement volunteer experiences for employee volunteer groups and college students. Apply here to be a Volunteer Coordinator!