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Double dividend ... and more

- Cory W. Sharp is an intern architect at FEH Design in Des Moines and the current president of the Young Professionals Connection

Kim Hanken, a friend of mine from Ankeny, was sharing some thoughts about the benefits of community involvement for young professionals. Since I couldn't have said them any better, I thought I'd go ahead and share them straight from her.


"What I’ve learned most about my community involvement is how much it has made me grow not only as an individual but as a professional," said Kim, who serves on the boards of directors for Ankeny Young Professionals, Art for Ankeny and YP Iowa.

Right off the bat, that's a powerful double dividend for young professionals.

She said the relationships she's created and maintained through the various community activities she's been involved in "have helped me succeed in a career that requires the 'who you know' element."

"It has also built a strong sense of loyalty within me to my city. By creating personal buy-in to the success and growth of my community, I’ve discovered how important I am to the future of the city we call home," she explained. "Many of my strengths that I use at work were discovered -- and continue to be discovered and tuned -- through giving my time to my community."

In the process, her love for networking, connecting and collaborating has helped her learn how to work with people who have a wide variety of personalities, backgrounds and priorities.

She believes that employers also receive big dividends when they encourage young professionals to be involved in community activities. (This topic of community involvement is so important for young people that I plan on writing about it for the next month or two, beginning with one of the biggest questions: How do I find the right company that encourages community involvement or convince my current boss that it's worthwhile for our company to let me be more involved?)

"Oftentimes we get caught up in the return on investment of community involvement and we forget that ROI doesn’t have to mean dollar signs. ROI can be skills and traits. It can be friendships, mentors or even a life lesson in who you don’t want to be," she said. "The nice thing for your employer is that by sending employees out into the community you are empowering them to care, to be passionate, and enriching their lives without spending an extra cent."

Kim also makes the point that you don't have to spend years and years … and years before reaping those dividends. She has said that she really didn't get involved in her community in a big way before 2013. In 2014, she was named the Ankeny Young Professional of the Year. A year later, she was recognized as the Ambassador of the Year by the Ankeny Chamber of Commerce. 


One more thing about Kim -- she's a mom to four children. 

If she can become involved in her community in such a big way with her commitment-packed schedule, what could possibly hold the rest of us back from doing the same thing? 


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