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Empower / Challenge / Engage: #GirlPoweredGGC

April 26, 2017
Building a business doesn't happen overnight (and I have nearly a decade of internet archives to show for it). Here is a guide outlining the tactile and interpersonal skill sets I had to learn on my journey to being a young business owner, alongside some suggestions on how you can expand your knowledge to become a well-rounded leader.

This post is sponsored by Girl Guides of Canada.
 
Girl Guides of Canada (GGC) is one of the largest networks of female volunteers in the country with over 19,000 adult and girl volunteers. By offering valuable volunteer opportunities for young women who want to develop essential skills that build their resume while making a difference, GCC looks to help females jump-start their dream career through tactical and inter-personal development. April 23 – 29, 2017 is National Volunteer Week, and GGC’s volunteer program empowers young women to put their ideas into action, drive change and grow into successful members of the community.

Building a business doesn’t happen overnight, and I have one decade of embarrassing internet archives to show for it.

Did you see Netflix’s GIRLBOSS? The show basically chronicles Sophia Amoruso’s character – an archetypical female “millennial”, failing and floundering until she finds her niche. 6 years into Kastor & Pollux and 10 years of documenting myself on the internet, I’ve realized the incredible shift that digital spaces have seen. Sophia’s story – now accessible to the masses – demonstrates our generation’s ongoing quest for self-fulfilment through self-initiated opportunity.
 
Through challenges and adversities, females have grown up with the innate understanding that we will always be at a disadvantage. Be it in regards to wage discrepancies or career growth, as girls, we weren’t raised to be leaders and to take selfish risks the way boys were. Historically, females have been told that we must selflessly take care of those around us. We’ve been told that being strong means that we must sacrifice our feminine qualities and that to be leaders we will be unhappy as women – as if the two cannot co-exist.
 
I’ve always struggled with feelings of incompetence, especially as a female and as a person of colour. I grew up super shy and super sheltered, and while I am now able to see the direct effects of my decisions in my career, it took me years to find my own voice and discover my own self-worth.
 

 
As millennials, we struggle with the open-ended and seemingly limitless environment of the business world. There are many misconceptions about being an entrepreneur. With the ability to push boundaries comes the idea that you have complete and total control over your time and have more freedom because you’re the one calling the shots.
 
People start businesses for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes, it’s about setting out to invent something revolutionary, and sometimes, it’s completely by default. Perhaps you wanted a change from your unfulfilling 9-5 job; or maybe, you just wanted a challenge. In any case, it’s okay. We’re existing in communities that are receptive and encouraging of new and unconventional ideas.
 
I’ve found that if you’re genuinely passionate about what you’re doing, you’re taking a completely different approach to solving problems – ones that are untraditional and off-the-cusp. The amazing thing about the millennial world is that it is more “feminine” than the traditional masculine business world. The millennial world has a lot of space for something new and unique. It also allows unique creatives to create their own spaces and niche. Female entrepreneurs can integrate the fluidity of femininity into their work.
 
How can we unlearn the idea that we are not cut out for the business world? The answer is confidence!
 
Confidence is something that can only be fostered through exploration – it’s a slow process – and while studies have shown that it is hereditary, self-confidence isn’t absolute and unchanging: it is largely accredited to your environment and your influences. Create your own feminine-loving environment. Surround yourself with like-minded, open-minded, and driven girls, and seek out opportunities where all these things can flourish.
 

 
I’ve told this story many times, but I spent my primitive years collecting badges and cultivating skill sets through Girl Guides of Canada. At the time, I understood weekly meetings as an excuse to leave my house – however, the experience soon became more about the friendships I was making through activities and workshops. Even though I stopped going to meetings because I became obsessed with Clay Aiken on American Idol (true story), I value the 6 years I spent with GCC as integral to my growth as a young women.
 

EMPOWER

A huge part of my day-to-day is working to create an environment and a message that help girls feel empowered in the work they are doing. When I was in school, I felt a huge weight on my shoulders because my understanding of my own design practice went against the grain of what was seen as “normal” in my field. It was easy to feel like an outcast because my work-flow wasn’t reflective of a traditional design student.
 
Self-motivation through a great support group is key. You’ll be shocked at how much more inspired you can be in the right company. Through volunteer opportunities with the Girl Guides of Canada, you can build your network of passionate and dedicated female leaders; all the while helping other girls build their confidence through empowerment.

CHALLENGE

I am a firm believer in trying everything at least once. While our generation is often afraid of stepping outside of their comfort zone, I have learned that fear of failure is not a valid boundary.
 
Social media is an enabler. It forces us to be constantly overstimulated and over-involved in everyone else’s lives. Therefore, it makes sense that we are constantly comparing ourselves to other people’s jobs, and experiences. But what about if we were to funnel that energy into doing something for ourselves?
  Put yourself out there and build your skill sets – even if it feels a bit uncomfortable. All experiences will give you a chance to learn more and do more. And if you have a network of supportive individuals, you will never feel alone.
 There are so many resources available that can give you the tools to start building your resume. Remove generic buzz words like “independent”, “self-motivated”, and “organized” and replace them with “a logical problem solver”, “a team player who can complete tasks independently or collaboratively”, and “a logical thinker who can prioritize and time manage”. Through internships in your field or volunteer opportunities with communities like Girl Guides of Canada, you will be able to obtain some transferable skills that will be recognized in the workplace. For example, GGC can assist you in building your ability to budget and financial plan, resolve conflicts, public speak, and manage risk. Though these skills may seem unrelated to your creative ambitions, they will ultimately help shape your understanding of your work and how you can contribute to your community.

ENGAGE

To truly make an impact on the people around you, it’s crucial to be able to appreciate all opportunities that are given to you, and to take the time and effort to chase new opportunities. If you are able to building a roster of experiences that are truly meaningful to you, you’re able to have tactile anecdotes that you can reference in job interviews and beyond.
 
Success is more than just having names on a resume: to really build a list of valuable references, you must actually be invested and engaged in the work you are doing. Make an impact everywhere you go but continuously asking yourself “why” you are put in any situation. What is your purpose?
Are you learning from this experience? Are you contributing something meaningful? Or are you just filling space so you can have a name on your resume? I’ve found that oftentimes, it’s not about having that “huge” name on your resume – it’s about actually being able to talk about WHY your experiences make you a great candidate for a job.
 
Volunteering can be one of these valuable experiences, and there are many opportunities at GGC that can help you get involved. No matter what you’re interested in, GGC can help you build your skills sets.

 

To apply for a GGC volunteer opportunity, check out GirlGuides.ca.