Vanguard VTO day

What is a VTO day?

When I joined Vanguard in the summer of 2016, it marked a return home for me to the Philadelphia region after college and work had taken me away for several years. Even though Philadelphia was home for me, I still found myself facing all of the normal jitters that come with a new experience: What would my new team be like? How would I fit in? How would I find my way? Luckily, two years later, I am happy to say these fears quickly subsided, in large part to my involvement with Vanguard’s community engagement efforts.

Part of what attracted me to the firm was Vanguard’s strong corporate culture, which centers around three key focus areas – clients, crew, and community. During the recruitment process, I was particularly impressed to learn about the breadth and depth of Vanguard’s community involvement. Once I joined the firm, I was able to take advantage of several of our formal and informal community programs to deepen my connection to both Vanguard and the Philadelphia community.

Vanguard VTO day

Within my first two weeks at Vanguard, I was invited to join a group of teammates in a community engagement project at a local university. Together, we partnered with an undergraduate class on a semester-long marketing case project. Building from that experience, my manager suggested I plan a volunteer day for our whole team. Vanguard offers each employee one day of personal time to be used pursuing a volunteer engagement of their choice. We call the program “Volunteer Time Off” or VTO. Our team decided to spend our VTO day working at a local school. Having enjoyed both of those experiences, a mentor encouraged me to participate in a Vanguard Skills-Based Volunteering project. A team of colleagues from all across Vanguard were brought together to assist a Philadelphia-based non-profit with a strategic project.

Each of these three initiatives offered me the chance to get to know my new colleagues better and develop mentors from across the company. It was extremely rewarding to get to share skills I honed at Vanguard such as critical thinking, business strategy, competitive analysis, and public speaking—with students and community members, while also sharing Vanguard’s mission.

Vanguard VTO day

Volunteering outside of work

My community service work at Vanguard inspired me to become more involved in my spare time as well. I’ve always been passionate about the arts, and growing up, I took years of ballet lessons. I knew once I was back and immersed in Philadelphia’s atmosphere and culture, that I’d want to align my volunteer efforts with the things I love.

Lucky for me, a family friend connected me with the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance (GPCA). The GPCA serves as the organizing body for over 400 of Philadelphia’s cultural organizations and provides them with key grants, research, marketing, professional development, and advocacy services. Around the same time I was connected with the GPCA, the organization was launching a young professionals’ group, the Emerging Leaders Circle (ELC). I was delighted to be nominated for and accepted to the ELC. The group plans monthly professional development, networking, and educational events to connect young professionals in Philadelphia’s corporate and non-profit sectors. For the past year, I have served on the steering committee of the ELC and taken a more active role in planning ELC events. This leadership role has given me the opportunity to continue to grow many of the skills I develop at Vanguard—like project management, strategic thinking and planning, and public speaking.

As I assumed more responsibility within the ELC, I once again found myself facing the new-experience-jitters when I was tasked with organizing and moderating a panel presentation. I had no clue where to start, but I found confidence in knowing I had my Vanguard support system to guide me along the way. My colleagues helped me brainstorm panel topics, connected me with potential panelists, shared speaking tips, and even drove me to the event in the pouring rain! The event was a huge success, and in an audience of over 100 people, I was so happy to see several friendly faces from Vanguard.

My efforts with the ELC were formally recognized when I was selected by the GPCA as the 2018 Emerging Cultural Champion. I was thrilled to receive this award. I was even prouder when audience members came up to me to congratulate me AND gush about their love for Vanguard!

Vanguard VTO day

Two years later, I have answers to many of my initial concerns. I have found a network of colleagues I fit in with. These colleagues have offered me critical guidance and helped me become a better volunteer and leader. I know I will have many other challenges and new experiences at Vanguard, but I also am confident my colleagues will support me through them all.

-Jessica P.

Vanguard VTO day

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