Quite often, Airmen are asked to volunteer for numerous on and off-base organizations. In many cases, assistance is required to work at concessions to help raise money for worthy causes or to work in other community activities. The work is sometimes hard, the hours sometimes long, but there is a lesson from working in these concessions. The true spirit of volunteerism is giving of oneself to make a difference and gain experience at the same time.
Lessons from Concessions is one opportunity Airmen can use to gain experience and strengthen their leadership and management skills by volunteering at a football concession stand.
Today’s Airmen need a new message, a message that explains how volunteerism can assist enlisted members with their professional growth. Air Force Instruction 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure also known as the “little brown book”, specifically states, “Airmen are to join professional organizations and participate in organization and community events through volunteerism.”
Although the “little brown book” clearly states that Airmen should be involved in volunteerism, what it does not say is why.
Airmen need to know there is a win-win in every volunteer activity.
If you are an Airman you may ask, “How can an Airman improve his professional growth by chanting peanuts, hotdogs, and ice cold drinks?” The true answer, you can’t. An Airman can only grow if he knows himself and understands where he needs improvement.
“Volunteerism can be purposeful and intentional in order to challenge oneself,” stated Clayton Moore, Chief Master Sergeant Retired.
Lessons from Concessions is one example through volunteerism that will allow Airmen to hone their professional development skills in leadership, team building, communication, motivational theory, and customer service. Think of it as a temporary work environment.
Lesson 1: Customer Service
Airman Jane desperately wants to improve her customer service because she is constantly criticized. She volunteered at the concessions and challenged herself to engage 200 people with a smile and a friendly greeting. Her interactions with these 200 people strengthened her ability to positively engage a customer. Her interactions with her customers were greatly appreciated and she applied what she learned back to her organization.
Lesson 2: Leadership and Management
Airman Jones just pinned on staff sergeant and he has never supervised a group of Airmen. His supervisor suggested for him to be a concessions booth manager. He quickly learned to supervise 14 Airmen with different skills, motivation, and work ethics while achieving a common goal. He gained the experience he needed personally and 14 Airmen saw a noncommissioned officer leading them in a community effort.
Lesson 3: Motivation
Sergeant Garcia has incredible management skills, but somehow he missed the professional military education lesson on how to encourage, motivate and inspire Airmen. The concessions provided him a perfect place to test his personality and to motivate other volunteers. The environment will definitely improve his confidence and encourage other Airmen to get and stay involved.
The examples provided are just a few Lessons from Concessions, which can be used to improve an Airman’s professional growth. Your lessons may be in another form of volunteerism. There are many volunteer opportunities out there where you can lead through service. Find a community service project, be a mentor, or join a professional organization. Whatever it is, search for win-win volunteer activities. It is what Airmen are charged to do. Every day is a challenge to improve your aptitude, knowledge, behavior, and skills. People are still our greatest asset and every opportunity is an opportunity for professional growth. We truly can obtain Lessons from Concessions.