Volunteering helped me navigate my own career journey

Anita is an Empower Work peer counselor and a grateful wife and mother who is humbled to share learnings on life and work.

In a role researching tools and apps to improve interpersonal relationships in the workplace, I discovered Empower Work and was immediately drawn to their peer counselor training program. My initial interest in volunteering was to help others through tough experiences at work via active listening and empathy.

Gratefully, the training and peer counseling experiences also took me down a path of personal growth as I navigated an unhealthy work situation of my own.

At work, I continually seek ways to mentor, connect, and coach—invoking some colleagues to name me the “glue” between locations. Based on these experiences, I surely had the chops to conquer the Empower Work peer counselor training program. WRONG!

I was challenged and stretched throughout the rigorous program which included practice counseling sessions, team calls, personal development sessions and an interview with the founder of the organization.

Gratefully, the training and peer counseling experiences also took me down a path of personal growth as I navigated an unhealthy work situation of my own. I am now more empathetic to those who may be impacted by microaggression, gaslighting and a toxic work environment.

Here are a few of the top learnings that have benefitted me as both a volunteer, and a professional:

  • Avoid heaping on “advice”  

  • Be empathetic and make it about them, not you!

  • Compose open-ended, thoughtful questions that empower the texter to build their solution

  • Use the resources provided, no matter how long you have been a peer counselor

  • Identify what is really bothering the texter and ensure you identify their ideal outcome

  • Get to know peer counselors and support staff, they are an inspiring group of people!

In addition to supporting texters, my experience with Empower Work helped me down a path of self-discovery, expanding my self worth beyond my job. This journey also helped me forgive, laugh, and move on from a toxic work relationship—freeing me from the unhealthy impact this can impose.

My next steps point toward working in a human facing field, one in which I can directly connect with and help others. This next role must have authentic leadership, trust and transparency, and empathy and compassion—because I know that is what I value.

When I reflect on my career journey and experience as an Empower Work peer counselor, a quote by Pema Chӧdrön comes to mind:

There comes a time when the bubble of ego is popped and you can’t get the ground back for an extended period of time. Those times, when you absolutely cannot get it back together, are the most rich and powerful times in our lives.


Challenging situations at work are virtually universal. Without proper support these experiences can feel confusing, isolating, and even hopeless. But if you have the tools, resources, and support to help you navigate those turbulent times, these experiences can end up enriching us in ways we never even imagined.