Volunteering helped expand my career coaching skills
This post is part of our peer counselor Q&A series which shares the perspectives of our talented volunteers. Sarah is a career counselor with nearly a decade of experience working in higher education. Her focus is on helping women build confidence in the workplace, leadership development, and salary negotiation.
What inspired you to become a volunteer?
I was at the point in my career where I was looking for an opportunity to expand my career coaching skills and grow as a professional. When I discovered Empower Work and learned about the mission, I was immediately excited about the idea of being a part of this movement/company. I’ve had my share of difficult workplace experiences and many times, I had no idea who to talk to or what my options were to move forward. It was important to me to help other navigate their own workplace challenges and potentially avoid similar situations.
What was the most valuable part of the training experience for you?
The most valuable part of the training experience was learning more about my own biases and how they might affect my role as a volunteer. Through this exercise I am now able to identify moments during a conversation where I become stuck or resistant. Also, being a part of a group training, I was able to learn from the other volunteers and how they might react to specific situations which helped me rethink my own approach.
What has surprised you most about being on the line?
I have been surprised by the courage of our users to reach out and seek a solution. To be open to talking with a complete stranger in order to work through their workplace challenge. Personally, I have been surprised by my own reactions to conversations, whether it was intense nervousness during my first few conversations or my ability to clearly hear the underlying issues and walk with someone through and challenge and identify potential solutions. It feels great every time!
How has your volunteer experience changed how you operate at work and/or in your life?
My volunteer experience has significantly changed the way I operate in professional and personal relationships. I no longer try to offer advice as my first approach, instead I listen carefully for what the other person is really trying to say and walk with them through the experience. I’ve realized it is more helpful to offer thoughtful questions and trust they are an expert on themselves and know what is best for their own situation. I am so grateful for this change.
Why do you think accessible, confidential work support is so important?
We spend so much of our lives at work and unfortunately, it is all too common for people to feel stuck in a difficult situation with limited or nonexistent resources. Having a place to talk to a trained volunteer where you are free from judgment, potential retaliation, or other negative consequences is crucial for people to move forward in their jobs and careers. In my opinion, having accessible, confidential work support is integral in improving employee satisfaction, retaining great talent, and creating a healthier work environment for everyone.
What would you tell other people thinking about becoming volunteers?
Sign up now!!! This is a unique opportunity to build your own professional and personal skills, positively impact people’s lives, and be a part of a community of supportive volunteers and incredible Empower Work staff. You won’t regret it.