Kristian Grant doesn't mind rolling up her sleeves if it means she can help others and network at the same time. She has been volunteering since she was an undergraduate at Michigan State University. The experiences have been fulfilling and allowed her to network for her career and personal life alike.
"The activities I have found most productive professionally and socially are volunteer opportunities and community activities. I meet most people that way," she says.
Kristian is on the board of the ITT School of Business Advisory Committee and the United Way NextGen, and she is a City of Wyoming Community Development Committee Member, and the President of R.E.A.A.L., a small nonprofit she founded as a college student. But Kristian didn't start out at the top.
"I found out about these opportunities by networking and letting others know I was interested. I became intentional about knowing what I wanted to get out of my community involvement and then finding it," she said.
There are hundreds of volunteer opportunities in the West Michigan area, and websites like the United Way Volunteer Center can help point potential volunteers in the right direction based on what they want to do. Kristian encourages young women who are looking to get involved in their community to volunteer.
Even though she didn't know anyone involved in the organizations, Kristian went for it, because in her opinion, "It is easy to make friends once you become involved because everyone is there to make the same difference but people also want to know more about the person they are working with."
She even encourages others to get creative in their volunteering by choosing things they might not normally do.
"Every great contact I’ve met or new successful project I’ve started has originated from a time when I was outside of my comfort zone. Being out of your comfort zone doesn’t necessarily mean bad things it just means this is new territory you haven’t conquered yet. Take a leap!" she says.
Kristian may wear many hats, but she also wears her heart on her sleeve. The best way to make new friends or even meet potential dates while volunteering is to be yourself.
"My best bit of advice when it comes to making friends anywhere is to be your most authentic self. I have been so amazed by the awesome people I meet and the fact that they really are interested in who I am and what I’m passionate about," she says.
Written by: Erika Fifelski was born and raised in West Michigan, and after a brief stint on the sunrise side, she's home and loving it. Erika enjoys cooking, sewing, vacuuming, and discovering new ways to live sustainably and support local businesses.