Summertime is here! And for a few of you fortunate people, it means the end of your academic careers and their first foray into the real world. However, you may quickly find that you're missing something you had grown accustomed to – working with like-minded Pilipinos, making a difference in the community. Of course, this depends on where you live. Some places (I'm looking at you Southern California) have scores of strong Pilipino-American communities. However, in some places like here in Chicago, the transition is a bit more jarring.
Sometimes it can be hard to find what opportunities are out there, if they even exist. In an effort to help those fresh grads who want to still be an active member of the community but have had trouble finding the right place to do so, I offer the following tips – all of which come from my own personal experiences:
1) Join BakitWhy.com!
Well, that one was kind of obvious. This is the link you're looking for: kasamamedia.com/opportunities. Yes, the requirements look kind of daunting, but it's really a great team and an opportunity to build up your skill sets if that's the kind of thing you're looking for. Even if you don't have any other BakitWhy team members near you, joining up is a great way to force yourself to go out and see what your local area really has to offer. Being an online resource means you can be anywhere (even international) and still be a member of the greater Pil-Am community.
2) Help plan big events
It's not what you know, it's who you know, and networking applies to all aspects of life - including activism and community building. If you catch wind of a big Pilipino event in your area (via online, newspapers, etc.) make it a point to not only attend, but also to get to know who's behind the scenes. Sometimes you may even come across an event that's still in its planning stages, which is a great way to familiarize yourself with all the resources and contacts that support your Pilipino community.
3) Ask your family
More than ever, it's quite common for college grads to transition from campus back to home with their parents before trying to strike out on their own. While there, why not take advantage and see how your parents are involved? Yes, there may be some awkwardness due to generational gaps and the like, but they might need you more than you think. A fresh perspective on the issues may be just the motivation an organization needs, and you can help to make their groups more accessible to future grads.
4) Contact government officials
If there's some semblance of a Pilipino population where you live, it's likely that the people who are elected to office in your area at least recognize them. They may be familiar with what local obstacles they face and their history in your area. If not the actual official, usually someone who works for them or someone more local (e.g. district level instead of city level) can be of help. Getting in touch with government officials is also great for building up your network.
5) Start your own organization
If you still haven't had any luck finding a group that you can team up with, maybe that's a good sign that you need to take things into your own hands. Instead of networking to see what opportunities are open to you, you'll instead need to network to see what it is your community needs. From there, you can use your own personal networks to find people in a similar situation to yours to help you achieve your goals.