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STARTUP/BIZ

S1 ep.4 - Volunteering Group

This isn't exactly a startup idea or a business idea since it's going to be non-profit. But I got this idea recently while I was on a plane to Madison. I was reading this book called "MBA Admissions Strategy" as I've been contemplating about getting an MBA degree soon. It had a checklist and if an applicant has too many checks, then it's a red-flag. One of the items there is volunteering opportunity. 

Back when I was a student in high school and college, I didn't find volunteering useful. I did some in high school, but that was mainly to have some things to write on my college application. It was not *voluntary* at all. I didn't enjoy doing it or understand the noble cause behind why other grown-ups that make money provided their effort for nothing.

Fast forward a little bit and now in college. Apparently, there were many groups that did volunteering, but for similar reasons, I just didn't do it. I wasn't completely sure why I had to do it. I also used to think it's time, but hey we all know it's an excuse when you don't have 4.0 GPA... touche!

Now, as a full-time employee, I have some time at my disposal, after I get off work and on weekends since I've been finally liberated from homework. But now, what was holding me back (partially, and it was also an excuse to not to anything) was that there wasn't something that I found interesting. I thought if I were to volunteer, I need to participate in an activity that's meaningful for me. Otherwise, I'd be doing the same thing I did in high school - volunteering as means to an end (MBA application).

I don't want to be too cynical, but my perception on my friends/acquaintances volunteering has been very twisted. It seemed like people go to foreign, developing countries so that they could help out a kid going through a huge struggle. Then they would take a selfie, then they would upload it on their facebook/instragram + whatever other social media accounts they have. Then they add some meaningful caption thats somewhere along the line of "this experience has changed my life..." and wait for 100+ likes they are going to get (or not, and if that's the case, they think about whether their experience and a few hundred plane ticket were worth it. Yeah even as I write this down, this is wayyyyyy to cynical, and I apologize. I do fully acknowledge that doing something is better than doing nothing. People like them are more valuable than people like me who don't take any actions and bitch about what they do without fully understanding their thoughts behind it.

Anyways, I don't want to be that whinny person who complains all the time, sitting on his couch all day long. So, I want to start a volunteering group, that's more "down to earth", where I can make changes and those changes are more tangible. You know, you don't always have to try to make a very successful volunteering organization that will grow world wide. Nor do you have to send a kid from hood to Harvard. That's not at all the focus of the volunteering group I'm envisioning. Instead, I want to focus on more day to day problems, such as

  • I don't know how to study for this math exam. How should I develop my study habits? (turn off your phone... like right now)
  • I fell in love with this girl in my class, but I absolutely have no idea what to do (well I have this problem everyday.. but I know what would've worked back in middle/high school)
  • I want to be fashionable, but I don't know where to start 
  • I want to go to a great college, but I don't know what I should do.
  • My English is bad right now, and I want to get better and make friends. What should I do?

Basically, our group will help middle/high school kids with lots of questions across all areas of life (academic, romantic, future.. whatever). Although we aren't Harvard MBA grads working at McKinsey, we've all been through middle and high school, and there are some things we wished we had done differently. We know easy *solutions* to what seems like *the world's most difficult problem* for them. I wish I had somebody who could answer my questions growing up. But it seemed so daunting and challenging to find somebody to ask simple one liner questions. Maybe I could help other people through this group.

The main "audience" will be middle/high school kids in the area that I live in (Fairfax/Centreville). I plan to help out kids that I can connect easily with (Koreans, Korean Americans) that can't afford to have a life tutor. Mentors will be people around my age who had some life experiences who can provide guidance to young kids. I'm thinking that ratio of 1:2 would be nice, though that has to be fetched out further as we roll out the program. 

I'm still brainstorming about this, but I'll probably make another post announcing this, and give you guys an update.

(P.S. the name I have in mind is twocenterville: 2 cents + centerville... is this okay...?)

Taeyang You