14 Aug “Comfortable but challenged:” Volunteer finds support at NCWorks Career Center
“No one will do the work for you, but they give you the tools to do the work,” says Jason Ray, volunteer orientation leader and NCWorks Career Center client. “I was pleasantly surprised when I walked through the doors and found out about the various support arms available. I would encourage anyone to come be pleasantly surprised about the wealth of knowledge and experience here. This is a place to feel comfortable but challenged.”
Ray left a position in the learning and development department of Bank of America in 2014 to pursue full-time an executive master’s degree in business administration from Queens University’s McColl School of Business. He’s been actively looking for a new role since graduating in May.
After learning about the NCWorks Career Centers from the N.C. Division of Workforce Solutions, he came to the Center at W. Morehead Street (WMS) in April.
“I went through orientation myself and thought, ‘this would be exciting to do, keep my skills fresh,” Ray says. He began serving as the Monday-morning orientation leader in May.
“Knowing that you’re disseminating information about our services that people don’t know about – seeing their eyes open when they realize, ‘I don’t need to go out and hire a resume writer or executive coach at $150 an hour. I don’t have to do this on my own,’ relating to other people brings great joy to me,” says Ray of his experiences. “It’s a great way to get my week started in the right direction and be productive.”
He also enjoys the networking opportunities that come from volunteering at the WMS Career Center, both with other volunteers and with new clients at orientation, from whom he’s “talked shop” about financial organizations and opportunities within them (Ray’s targets for his own search).
And he values how volunteering is contributing to his search: “The main part of landing a role is confidence and keeping your skills fresh. [Volunteering] helps maintain an optimistic outlook,” notes Ray. “When I reach out to companies, I feel they see that and it contributes to being invited to interview and ultimately landing a role.”
The role into which Ray would like to land is one in the learning and development space, where he could incorporate the project management training he’s gained through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA, precursor to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, or WIOA) Classroom Training program. While he has project management experience in his background, he realized earning the PMP (Project Management Professional) certification would make him more marketable.
He’ll finish the classroom work at Central Piedmont Community College this month and plans to sit for the national exam in September.
During his active search, Ray has taken full advantage of Career Center services beyond WIA training funds; he’s attended multiple workshops and joined a job-search team.
Beyond the Career Center doors, Ray says networking at industry events has been a key component of his re-employment strategy. He’s attended events through the local chapters of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). He uses LinkedIn to maintain connections after face-to-face meetings.
And he uses the Resource Center and conversations with staff to keep abreast of the job market, to learn about job openings and companies planning to come to Charlotte.
Ray encourages other professionals to consider volunteering at an NCWorks Career Center. “Every volunteer opportunity uses skills that are transferrable,” he says. “You get motivation and confidence, and everyone – gainfully employed or not – benefits from expanding their network. And you get the feeling of ‘paying it forward,’ which hits at the core of what we’re all about. It feeds the soul.”
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