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Topics: Career Development, New Practitioners, Talent Management
Pro Bono In The Project Management Community?
This idea has been ruminating in my mind since 2019. This is something I seriously considering implementing when I become a fresh graduate. Disclaimer, this is simply a secondary option to a legitimate job with a salary or stipend.

The notion is to work for free in different junior positions(project management) such as Project Intern, Project Apprentice, Project Administrator, Project Support Officer, Project Planner, Project Controller, Document Controller, Project Assistant, Project Clerk, and Project Secretary.

The work for the free model will be offered on a virtual and in-person basis. Of course, there will be defined contractual agreements to ensure I am not exploited or overworked. For example a maximum work duration of six (6) months.

The justification for executing this is as follows:
(1) Gain valuable work experience in the field
(2) Build professional meaningful relationships
(3) Fastrack career development
(4) Simply be of service

The service will be offered exclusively to members of my local chapter, members of projectmangement.com, community-based organizations, and non-governmental organizations.

What do yall think about this? Any perspective would be greatly appreciated.


EndNote: Any further advice, guidance, suggestions, and recommendations. Please don't hesitate to inbox me. I am open to discussion.
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Stephen -

This is effectively volunteering which is a well established practice for giving back as well as gaining valuable experience. Whether it is with a local PMI chapter or a not-for-profit association whose cause you believe in, there are always project management-oriented opportunities.

You can use PMI's VRMS to identify such opportunities at the local and global levels within the larger PMI organization (including all chapters) but you'd likely need to contact other not-for-profit associations directly.

Kiron
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1 reply by Stephen Robin
Feb 27, 2022 12:45 PM
Stephen Robin
...
I already volunteer for my chapter by being involved in the projects and other organizations. The implication is that I currently can't volunteer for other chapters due to many requiring a paid membership and my student membership expiring. Also, some applications required certifications which I have not acquired as yet.

I wouldn't consider my idea volunteering because volunteering is only a couple of hours a week. I am talking about a part-time or full-time schedule and doing the exact work you would typically get paid for. That's why I called it Pro Bono instead of volunteering. Hope this makes sense.
Volunteering is a great way to pick up and hone skills. Of course, most of us do need a source of income. That means, volunteering must often be a sideline, rather than your main job.
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1 reply by Stephen Robin
Feb 27, 2022 12:47 PM
Stephen Robin
...
Of course, I strongly agree and it is something I plan to do for as long as I can. I agree with volunteering being a sideline, it should not take up more focus than your studies or job.
Feb 27, 2022 9:24 AM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
Stephen -

This is effectively volunteering which is a well established practice for giving back as well as gaining valuable experience. Whether it is with a local PMI chapter or a not-for-profit association whose cause you believe in, there are always project management-oriented opportunities.

You can use PMI's VRMS to identify such opportunities at the local and global levels within the larger PMI organization (including all chapters) but you'd likely need to contact other not-for-profit associations directly.

Kiron
I already volunteer for my chapter by being involved in the projects and other organizations. The implication is that I currently can't volunteer for other chapters due to many requiring a paid membership and my student membership expiring. Also, some applications required certifications which I have not acquired as yet.

I wouldn't consider my idea volunteering because volunteering is only a couple of hours a week. I am talking about a part-time or full-time schedule and doing the exact work you would typically get paid for. That's why I called it Pro Bono instead of volunteering. Hope this makes sense.
Feb 27, 2022 9:50 AM
Replying to Stéphane Parent
...
Volunteering is a great way to pick up and hone skills. Of course, most of us do need a source of income. That means, volunteering must often be a sideline, rather than your main job.
Of course, I strongly agree and it is something I plan to do for as long as I can. I agree with volunteering being a sideline, it should not take up more focus than your studies or job.
Stephen,

bravo, often volunteering for a Chapter means to help the Chapter run itself, from Chapter Board to event organizer.

There are some volunteer opportunities that come close to pro bono, e.g. when the Chapter provides PM services to other NGOs.

Have seen this in the Parana, Brazil Chapter and also in the Germany Chapter: https://pmi-gc.de/en/service-offering/soci...ty-projects-eng

Thomas
Volunteering via an established organization is a good way of learning but trying to do it on your own you will soon learn about the concept of perceived value.
If you offer to work for free the perceived value for many is low hence the fact that companies won't take you up on an offer. Weird but true.
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2 replies by Stephen Robin and Stéphane Parent
Mar 02, 2022 6:12 AM
Stephen Robin
...
Interesting does this apply to all types of organizations? Bear in mind I won't be approaching government firms and random multinationals to ask for work. I have a proposed target group to whom I am offering my services. Eg NGOs and Community Based organizations, local chapter members, and the like. With chapter members that would be a level of familiarity and CBOs/NGOs always need extra hands.

I do agree with the concept of perceived value. Selling yourself too short gives the perception that you do not meet the criteria or acceptable standards. You may actually get better success applying through the normal route than the alternative.

Furthermore, I may also be perceived as a corporate spy to commit corporate espionage on companies. Therefore I would not approach recognized companies(especially in the private sector).
Mar 02, 2022 7:40 AM
Stéphane Parent
...
I remember when we were trying to get rid of a perfectly good gas stove. We posted it on online boards saying it was free with pick up. Nobody even called to enquire about it.

I changed the online posting to say $50 and we had it "sold" and picked up within days.

Expectations, indeed!
Mar 02, 2022 12:27 AM
Replying to Anton Oosthuizen
...
Volunteering via an established organization is a good way of learning but trying to do it on your own you will soon learn about the concept of perceived value.
If you offer to work for free the perceived value for many is low hence the fact that companies won't take you up on an offer. Weird but true.
Interesting does this apply to all types of organizations? Bear in mind I won't be approaching government firms and random multinationals to ask for work. I have a proposed target group to whom I am offering my services. Eg NGOs and Community Based organizations, local chapter members, and the like. With chapter members that would be a level of familiarity and CBOs/NGOs always need extra hands.

I do agree with the concept of perceived value. Selling yourself too short gives the perception that you do not meet the criteria or acceptable standards. You may actually get better success applying through the normal route than the alternative.

Furthermore, I may also be perceived as a corporate spy to commit corporate espionage on companies. Therefore I would not approach recognized companies(especially in the private sector).
...
1 reply by Stéphane Parent
Mar 02, 2022 7:44 AM
Stéphane Parent
...
The trick is to not donate your work but, instead, give them a discount!

When I was self-employed, I would tell people my rate. If I felt there was a reason for a reduced rate, I would simply invoice my regular rate along with a discount.
Mar 02, 2022 12:27 AM
Replying to Anton Oosthuizen
...
Volunteering via an established organization is a good way of learning but trying to do it on your own you will soon learn about the concept of perceived value.
If you offer to work for free the perceived value for many is low hence the fact that companies won't take you up on an offer. Weird but true.
I remember when we were trying to get rid of a perfectly good gas stove. We posted it on online boards saying it was free with pick up. Nobody even called to enquire about it.

I changed the online posting to say $50 and we had it "sold" and picked up within days.

Expectations, indeed!
Mar 02, 2022 6:12 AM
Replying to Stephen Robin
...
Interesting does this apply to all types of organizations? Bear in mind I won't be approaching government firms and random multinationals to ask for work. I have a proposed target group to whom I am offering my services. Eg NGOs and Community Based organizations, local chapter members, and the like. With chapter members that would be a level of familiarity and CBOs/NGOs always need extra hands.

I do agree with the concept of perceived value. Selling yourself too short gives the perception that you do not meet the criteria or acceptable standards. You may actually get better success applying through the normal route than the alternative.

Furthermore, I may also be perceived as a corporate spy to commit corporate espionage on companies. Therefore I would not approach recognized companies(especially in the private sector).
The trick is to not donate your work but, instead, give them a discount!

When I was self-employed, I would tell people my rate. If I felt there was a reason for a reduced rate, I would simply invoice my regular rate along with a discount.
...
1 reply by Stephen Robin
Mar 02, 2022 8:12 AM
Stephen Robin
...
Excellent advice. I never thought from that perspective. Although I would play devil's advocate here. What is the likelihood of organizations accepting a paid rate from a fresh graduate with limited work experience and qualifications versus a mature professional? Your credibility and portfolio are built over the lifespan of your career not so?
Mar 02, 2022 7:44 AM
Replying to Stéphane Parent
...
The trick is to not donate your work but, instead, give them a discount!

When I was self-employed, I would tell people my rate. If I felt there was a reason for a reduced rate, I would simply invoice my regular rate along with a discount.
Excellent advice. I never thought from that perspective. Although I would play devil's advocate here. What is the likelihood of organizations accepting a paid rate from a fresh graduate with limited work experience and qualifications versus a mature professional? Your credibility and portfolio are built over the lifespan of your career not so?
...
1 reply by Stéphane Parent
Mar 02, 2022 12:02 PM
Stéphane Parent
...
It depends on how you think about it, Stephen.

Your rate should be based on the quality, timeliness and value of what you deliver. Your discount is to offset expectations around your experience and qualifications. If anything, this makes you look professional.

You make visible the real value of what you produced. When you have repeat business, they won't be surprised when you show your full rate again. It will be up to you to decide on how much, if any, discount you want to give them after the first time.
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