As I bench pressed myself out of bed one recent Sunday morning, I was not looking forward to my planned, late-afternoon event. A lot of my new friends here in Columbus had convinced me to go volunteer at a local retirement home. I had done it several times throughout my four years of undergraduate school. Salty memories of college folk attempting to converse with the greatest American generation were still fresh in my mind. I especially felt guilty for unintentionally invoking one particular gentleman to cry as he spoke to me about his life in the 1940s. Thinking I was in for another teeth-gritting experience, I eventually made my way over to the retirement home.
I was in for a little bit of a shock when I walked in because the receptionist looked especially glad to see another volunteer. Making my way over to one of the multipurpose rooms, I was also surprised at what I witnessed: young adults and retirement residents all having fun! Curious as to the success of these semimonthly visits, I observed that the key with that great generation wasn’t highlighting the differences in between our lives, but rather was highlighting our commonalities. I sat around the poker table and gambled away a quarter (I’m a horrible bluffer). The table next to mine was playing Uno.
Helping the residents shuffle and deal, it was easy to see that they enjoy much of the same things we enjoy such as good company and fun activities. Afterward, a few of the volunteers made their way over to a grand piano and played both old and new show tunes. The main lobby was filled with residents, visiting relatives, and employees. They clearly enjoyed the spectacular effort demonstrated. That being said, I feel as though I (and the other volunteers) came away with the greatest benefit.
You may be wondering why I share this tale. Attending a high ranking program such as Fisher and learning alongside some of the greatest talent in the world can lead to a very subtle trap. At least from my personal experience, I can say it is easy to forget the real reason I do what I do. Yes, the higher standard of living will be great, the challenge of my future career will surely thrill, and I will definitely enjoy finding solutions to complex problems. But the reason I do all of that is to be happy and hopefully help others be the same. Sometimes, getting “caught up” in the necessities of a demanding program can entrench our behaviors to the point where we may wonder if we aren’t being selfish. The irony of it all is that doing so can ultimately limit your potential for success.
“As I told our new students at Monday’s Convocation, you will only
triumph if you try. Reach out to your faculty. Stretch yourselves. Get
involved. Volunteer. Sign up and see where life takes you. That advice
applies equally to all students — new and returning, undergraduate and
graduate.” –E. Gordon Gee, President of The Ohio State University
As our fearless leader points out, reaching out and getting involved will do nothing but help you triumph. And there are tons of opportunities to do that! The Ohio Society of CPAs came in yesterday to present us with opportunities to go to the classroom and help educate elementary students. This year they are initiating a program called FETCH.
I think it’ll be fun to help children learn sound financial practices that will help them in life. Make sure to check back mid-November for my impressions (I hope I don’t unintentionally invoke a child to cry!).
Whether it is joining a volunteering organization such as FisherServes, helping out the future generation through programs like FETCH, or simply lending a helping hand through your church, getting involved will help us remember that work is a means to an end and life is to be enjoyed. Ultimately, you get so much more than you give when you do.