Value in Volunteering

19 09 2009

Now that I’m finally back from vacation and over my reverse culture shock, I’ll stop neglecting you, Awesome and Unemployed!  I had amazing adventures in China.  Here’s one photo of me on the Great Wall of China!

Photo of me on the Great Wall of China

While I was away, an old friend of mine emailed me to talk about his unemployment situation.   Here’s his strategy:

I’ve been unemployed now for a little over 13 months. Supporting myself by playing poker while I look for a real job. For the record, I don’t consider myself to be a professional poker player (though I seem to get that label a lot), my circumstances are fortunate enough to let me do this by and scrape by. Anyways, I’ve categorized my job hunt into 2 categories:
Category A) Jobs to fill my time. This includes counter monkey-type jobs, serving, bartending, etc. And;
Category B) Jobs in line with my career. Marketing-related fields where I’m trying to get in with a number of agencies in town.

He’s currently looking for category A jobs, completely unrelated to his field, while he waits for the recession to lift.  (Side note:  It’s lifting.)  But the category A companies wouldn’t even hire him because he had too much category B experience.

My thoughts?  STICK TO THE CATEGORY B ROLES!  During my unemployment, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do in life.  I knew that I needed experience and I didn’t really have any, so here was my approach.

I researched small companies in the area that were doing what I wanted to do.  Small companies need the help.  They really don’t have a lot of resources and if you’re a smart, capable individual, they could really use your help.

I found Winslow & Associates, a small event planning company in San Francisco, which was responsible for most of the well-known non-profit events in San Francisco.  The more I read about Lynne Winslow and her company, the more intrigued I became.  I emailed Lynne.

Dear Ms. Winslow,

I hope this email finds you well!  My name is Stefanie and I’m a recent graduate that just realized my life’s ambition: to plan spectacular events that raise awareness and financial support for charitable causes.  I have so much respect for the events that you and your associates put on, and I wanted to write you to see if I could learn more about event planning.

Would you be opposed to having an extra hand around the office as an intern or volunteer for your company?  I will work without compensation and am willing to work as hard as possible to learn about this industry.  I will do anything that you need me to do.  I’m positive, proactive, and resourceful and I currently reside in San Francisco, so transportation is not a problem.

Since I know you are very busy, I’ve enclose my resume.  I know that you are not hiring new employees at the moment, but I hope you find that I will have the basic skills necessary to assist your team as an intern or volunteer.  I am committed to this dream and I hope I will prove to be an asset to your company if you should take me.

If you would like to speak with me more or if you have any questions, you may contact me via email at me@ or via telephone at (415) 555-5555.

Stefanie Lau
Recent UC Davis Graduate

P.S.  I volunteered the past 4 years at the Academy of Friends Oscar Gala and your company truly does a spectacular job with that event.  I will be volunteering this year again and many years to come.  If you are not looking for help at this moment, I would love to take you out to coffee to learn about what you do and all the work that you have put into your company.  Thanks for your time!

(Caveat:  That was my dream after college and what I’ve wanted has changed since then, but I’m thankful I had the opportunity to learn.)

Lynne’s reaction?  YES, YES, YES! 🙂

She needed the help and she found that I had the skills to learn and get the job done.  She brought me in for a quick interview and signed be on as a part time intern making minimum wage ($10/hr).  It wasn’t much, but Lynne saved me.  Here’s how:

  1. I got off my @$$ and started being productive.
  2. I learned a lot about being detail oriented and applying tools like Excel, Word, and databases.
  3. I got to learn from the best in the industry and see how they managed their small company and negotiated with vendors, secured clients, stretched miracles out of a tight budget, and delivered spectacular events.
  4. I kept my skills current.

When I got my job with Google, she was not happy.  “You will miss this, Stefanie.”  She told me she was going to hire me and that she fully expected me to stay in touch and involved in her events.  I have stayed in touch and helped her secure some corporate clients, as well.  For everything that Lynne saw in me, I’m grateful and will pay it forward and back as much as I can.

How is this relevant to you?  Well, let me ask you–what kinds of jobs are you looking for in this recession?  How can you keep your skills current and learn the newest trends in the industry?  Volunteer your time.  Someone needs you, somewhere.  Do your research, email the person in charge, and tell them why you’re awesome and here to solve their problems.

Go out there, conquer and succeed!

(Afterthought–I think this is another tip I learned from Charles Caudill.  Charlie, you’re the best!)




2 responses

14 11 2009

this is something that I am interested in pursuing because my part-time job has not turned full-time….thanks for the tip!

28 12 2009
The Top 8 Blogs of 2009 (That Aren’t This One) « Needle, Meet Haystack

[…] Recommended Posts: “Walk in with more than your resume…,” “Value in Volunteering“ […]

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