15 Feb Volunteer strengthens networking skills at Charlotte Works
“Networking is not one of my strong suits,” says Marcus White. “I’m more of an introvert. Being here has increased my ability to reach out, because what I’ve learned is that you never know how one conversation might lead you to another conversation that might lead you somewhere.”
And since becoming a volunteer in Charlotte Works’ Resource Center in October 2013, White has had lots of conversations as he helps clients navigate the NCWorks Online system and, in some cases, simply hone their basic computer skills.
“It’s an opportunity to talk to them about where they are in their journey,” he says. “Some are discouraged. Some don’t know a lot about computers. I say, ‘Hey, you’re going to be an expert at this in a couple of hours!’ It’s most rewarding when they come thank me for helping them – they realize it’s not as daunting as they thought.”
“Apart from his obvious intelligence and strong organizational and communication skills, Marcus is a deeply kind and giving human being. He has unlimited patience when assisting clients who have little or no computer knowledge and the unique ability to truly listen and comprehend what someone is saying even if they may not know how to articulate it themselves,” says Chris Miller, resource associate.
White first came to Charlotte Works in September 2013 after learning about us through talking with fellow clients at outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison; he lost his position in supply chain operations at FMC’s Lithium Division early last year. He’s used the Resource Center himself, taken workshops and attended an Employer Series information session. He’s also using Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Classroom Training funds to earn a Six Sigma black belt certification from Central Piedmont Community College.
“WIA was one of the things I originally came here for. But then there was the opportunity to help people in my same situation, who are maybe going through this for the first time,” says White. “Unemployment is real for anyone who’s going through it.”
He says even beyond workshops, Charlotte Works has become more about the networking opportunities. “This position has been good, it’s allowed me to meet a lot of different people from all aspects of life,” he notes. “I enjoy coming here. I talk to folks, make new friends, meet a lot of people – whether actually here or through a new LinkedIn connection.”
An acquaintance inspired White to volunteer several months after he was laid off by pointing out that people were going to ask what else he was doing besides looking for a job.
“I said, ‘Nothing’s more important than looking for a job!’ But that’s not true: you need to do things that will improve yourself, make yourself more marketable, improve your chances of getting a job,” he says. “There are many ways to improve yourself, and volunteering and networking are great ways to enhance your soft skills.”
White hopes to continue to volunteer at Charlotte Works after landing his supply-chain “dream job” in global vendor relations. His diverse background in supply chain, operations, process improvement, sales and operations planning and more has him searching for a company that appreciates an experienced, well-rounded candidate – one that continues to improve himself through service to others.