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Volunteering, Job Interviews, and Cat Videos. Oh My!

By James Court and Danielle Magnus 

Let’s pretend for a moment that you could travel back in time to when you were preparing for your first “real” job interview. What advice would you give yourself? I didn’t have the chance to time travel, but got the best alternative.

On a bitterly cold day, we teamed up with the Pittsburgh Promise, an organization enriching the lives of Pittsburgh-based college students by providing scholarships and the resources needed to prepare for a successful career.

The Pittsburgh Promise

College-age students can sometimes be given a stereotype. Many assume they spend most of their days liking cat videos on Facebook, tweeting about what they ate for breakfast, or posting selfies to Instagram. The group in attendance at the Pittsburgh Promise Career Launch proved to be exactly the opposite. On a morning of record-breaking low temperatures, these students braved the cold during their winter break and broke the attendance record for all past Pittsburgh Promise Career Launch days. The students’ high attendance and enthusiasm proved the pre-conceived stereotype wrong, and we were thoroughly impressed by their engagement and willingness to learn.

The topic of our Career Launch presentation was preparing for interviews. We covered how to research companies, prepare examples of past successes, handle difficult interview situations, and follow up with the interviewer. They even had a chance to practice interviewing by answering questions DDI actually poses to job candidates.

It was very humbling to hear how grateful the students were. We even received this nice feedback from one of the students.

At this point you may be asking yourself, “What motivated you to go out on the coldest day of the year to facilitate a workshop?” For us, the decision was simple. People volunteer for a variety of reasons, whether it’s to expand their network or to give back to the community. Regardless of the reason, the value of volunteering goes well beyond the two of us.

This is the fourth time DDI has partnered with the Pittsburgh Promise for a Career Launch event, and each year we’re amazed by the students we have a chance to work with. Volunteering with the Pittsburgh Promise gave us a chance to expand our boundaries and connect with people we never would have met otherwise. Our goal was to give each student the tools and confidence required to conquer their first interview. The positive response from the students each year is more than enough to validate the commitment of volunteering our time.

After an interview everyone asks themselves, “What could I have done differently?” Unfortunately, we can’t travel back to our first interview and offer advice to ourselves, but by volunteering with the Pittsburgh Promise we’re certain that when these students have that moment they will know they did their absolute best.

If you’d like to learn more about the event, watch this video from CBS Pittsburgh.

What lessons have you learned from volunteering? Comment to share your story.

James Court is a marketing associate and social media specialist at DDI.

Danielle Magnus is a former marketing automation associate at DDI.

Posted: 24 Apr, 2014,
Talk to an Expert: Volunteering, Job Interviews, and Cat Videos. Oh My!
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