I was just a few years out of grad school when I realized that I was stuck. I had only a few years under my belt and noticed that I wasn’t growing. In fact, I was just settling in — and it was startling. For the first time in my life, my immediate environment wasn’t just handing out interesting opportunities. (WHAT?) Oh well, never one to sit back and wait for inspiration, I went hunting for it.

I didn’t really know what I wanted or where to start, so I did what I knew how to do best: research. I read about the science of social connections online and became interested in seeing first hand how businesses were leveraging it. And then there it was, a small offer that simply read: Looking for you to manage our FaceBook account. Two phone calls later, I secured my first volunteer position with the San Francisco Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, and shortly after joined the association as a full-fledged member.

The Facebook volunteer position grew into a director role overlooking the full social media strategy, which then parlayed into co-VP of communications. I was learning strategy, messaging, timing, audience analysis, event planning, the science of humans in our social world; I absolutely loved it. The more my skills and confidence grew, the richer my conversations with people became, and my career prospects enlivened. I started opening doors and found exciting new possibilities.

Eyeing leadership positions, I took a volunteer position as Finance Director for the Pacific Plains Region to learn some business skills. PnLs, budgeting, and contract negotiation became my life. I learned what a break-even budget actually was, and how to accurately read a ledger. It broadened my appreciation for the demands and nuances of leadership and prepared me to take on my current role as San Francisco chapter President — a role that has been equal parts rewarding and challenging, with a healthy dose of humility, something we all need.

SF IABC has always served as an amazing skills lab for me. As much as I’ve served our mission, it’s served me in return. And in honor of member month, I invite you to find out how SF IABC can serve you, too. Find out more here: https://sf.iabc.com/member-benefits/


Jennel McDonald is a certified change management leader and business communicator, speaking often on change topics including differences between communications and change management, and resistance — how to recognize it and what to do about it. She mixes together digital marketing, brand management, employee communication, organizational design, and human psychology to develop compelling strategies that build relationships and help companies realize cultural change or affirmation.

Connect with Jennel on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jennelmcdonald