Humor me for a moment as I give a glimpse of my non-professional life. I promise it has something to do with design and development. Last Saturday, I joined the GCF Youth L.I.V.E. Missions team on an outreach to an urban poor area in Quezon City. For one thing, I did not work a lot during the past week so I thought I might as well do something extremely productive with my time.
For one day I served as a driver for the youth as well as handling a group of children from that area. It was a very fulfilling experience seeing how very little things can make a difference in the lives of children, even if it was only for a single day. This was my first time to help in one an outreach so it was surprisingly very fun talking to the kids and playing around with them.
So, what does this have to do with professional designers and developers? Well, I’d like to say that in any profession, I believe there is no excuse not to give back with the God-given talents you have. If you’re a web designer or developer, consider building a website for one non-profit organization a year. If your a print designer, how about designing posters for non-profit events this year for free.
More importantly, if you’re a designer or developer of any medium, without that many portfolio items, giving back pro bono style can provide a win-win situation for both parties involved. The organization get’s free design and more importantly, you get work to display in your portfolio, get to hone your budding skills, make a mark with your style and if you do a decent enough job, may obtain a stream of referrals from that non-profit. As an added bonus, pro bono clients will probably be some of the best clients you’ll ever have. They’re happy most of the time with anything you can give (which means you can experiment a lot) and most of the time, don’t hassle you at any angle.
When I look back at my very short life so far, I’ve always found a recurring theme when it comes to giving back. I’ve found that you always get more in return than what you give. When I was starting out with design, I chose to help out in my local church. Because I could experiment and make mistakes, I was able to grow into the profession I am in right now. Even if you’re an established professional, sometimes you have to believe that work isn’t always about the money or how bigger your pockets will be getting in return. Sometimes it’s about the intangibles in life and getting things of greater value.
As human beings, no matter what the profession, I believe that everyone can make the time to give back to their community, even if just once a year, and they’ll more often than not be pleasantly surprised to find that they get more out of it than they expected.