Volunteer stands ready to answer the question:

HomeVolunteer stands ready to answer the question:

Volunteer stands ready to answer the question:

“What have you been doing?”

Several years ago, when Charlotte Works was still known as ProNet, Thelma Wright was introduced to the concept of skills-based volunteering – using specialized skills and talents to strengthen a nonprofit organization’s infrastructure.

So Wright, a business analyst by trade, took a volunteer project as a financial analyst with RAIN (Regional AIDS Interfaith Network).

She returned to Charlotte Works in March 2013 and attended a workshop called “Volunteering with Purpose.” The instructor stressed the importance of such volunteering during the job search, not only to keep yourself busy, but also to be able to respond strongly to the oft-asked interview question, “So what have you been doing while unemployed?”

Following professional project work over the next nine months, Wright came back to us and found that volunteering is encouraged during our orientation sessions. “I realized that Charlotte Works used volunteers, so I said, ‘OK, let me see if they can use me,’” she recalls.

She started as an assistant in the Resource Center and helped then-Volunteer Manager Julie Paul to screen and interview other potential volunteers. Today, hers is the friendly voice you may hear on the phone with a workshop reminder.

Wright continues to assist clients in the Resource Center while she conducts her own job-search activities. “I really like answering questions and being a resource. This is a valuable offering to the community and I understand how important the volunteer hours are to support all the clients coming in,” she says. “There are shortages – there are people here who need help on the computers and there isn’t enough staff to help them.”

She last worked a permanent role in 2006; since then, she’s worked both full- and part-time contract positions to maintain her professional skills and earn income.

Wright has taken advantage of all of Charlotte Works’ services: workshops, career coaching, job-search teams and the Employer Series.

She has also participated in multiple career groups outside the organization and joined several user-groups specializing in business analysis, information technology (IT) and organizational development “to increase my visibility and practice the networking process, which all programs talk about and is my least-favorite activity.”

In addition, Wright earned her REACH-IT certification in information analytics from Central Piedmont Community College to bolster her skill set.

When asked about her dream job, Wright notes that while she enjoys the simplicity and accuracy of data input, what really excites her is problem resolution, whether involving people or data. “I like correcting inefficiencies, resolving discrepancies and validation and verification, in a very relaxed environment. I’d prefer not to wear a suit every day,” she says. “I’ve been focusing on data analyst and quality assurance positions. I’m looking at opportunities in HRIS [human resource information systems] and sales analytics.”

Meanwhile, “volunteering gets me out of the house. I’m providing a valuable service and meeting individuals through workshops,” says Wright. “It’s filling a gap in my resume. When I’m asked, ‘what have you been doing?,’ I can say I’ve been helping an organization that supports the community.”


Want to fill in a gap on your resume, learn a new skill or just give back? Find out how to do all those things by becoming a Charlotte Works volunteer! Or contact Stacey Henderson, talent engagement strategist, at 704.206.1378.

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