Volunteer To Grow Your Career, with Anneliese Davis

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If you’re returning to work after a long break, you need to prepare long before you start looking for that perfect job. Volunteering in your community is a great way to grow professionally while maintaining your skill set. You also have a chance to meet others who share your interests and values. Find Your Dream Job guest Anneliese Davis (https://www.linkedin.com/in/anneliesedavis/) shares how she used volunteer work to not only keep her skills sharp but to decide what type of career she wanted. Anneliese tells us that approaching her job search with curiosity allowed her to switch careers and find a job she loves. Learn more about Anneliese’s career history below in this installment of our Success Stories (https://www.macslist.org/articles/success-stories) series.

What do you do for a career? Who do you work for?

I’m the part-time executive director (and first staff member!) for Rahab’s Sisters (http://rahabs-sisters.org/), a 14-year-old organization providing radical hospitality to marginalized women every Friday night on SE 82nd. We offer a homemade meal and hygiene supplies, but the real story of Rahab’s Sisters is the community our guests and volunteers build together.

How long did it take you to find this job?

My daughter started kindergarten in 2016, so I began to think about going back into the workforce. I kept an eye on what was out there, talked to a few folks, applied for a job or two, but couldn’t seem to get excited about anything until I saw the Rahab’s Sisters posting in April; I started in June.

How did you find your job? What resources did you use? What tool or tactic helped the most?

I can honestly say I always skim Mac’s List, even when I’m not actively looking for a job. It has given me a good overview of Portland’s nonprofit sector and I learn about a lot of different organizations. This is the first time I have ever found a position from a job posting and not via my network, so it was different to introduce myself to people who knew nothing about me. I spent a lot of time on my resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile, though, I felt like I was able to accurately represent my skills, experience and values.

What was the most difficult part of your job search? How did you overcome this challenge?

I moved to Portland in 2013 and decided to be a full-time parent, so the last paid job on my resume was a few years back and in another city. I had been doing a lot of volunteer work here, though, and I decided to list my volunteer leadership roles on my resume (https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-include-volunteer-work-on-your-resume-2063297) in the same way as all my paid positions under the heading “Experience” with dates, key responsibilities and accomplishments. I made it clear I was a volunteer, of course, but it demonstrated that I was an active part of the Portland community.

What is the single best piece of advice you would offer other job seekers?

After I spent an evening volunteering with Rahab’s Sisters, I knew I really wanted this job. So the next day, I wrote a letter to the board sharing what that experience had been like for me and how much I wanted to be part of this work. It felt vulnerable to put myself out there like that and after I hit “send” I wondered how I would be perceived. But I knew if I wasn’t selected for the job, my disappointment would be compounded if I didn’t feel I had given it my all. What have you got to lose if you really go for it?

Why do you love your job?

I knew I would enjoy the intellectual challenge of building out an organization that has been doing good work for a long time. But the real joy and learning for me has been coming to know our community of mainstream and marginalized women. My heart is broken open a million times a night, and I am in awe of our guests’ resilience and our volunteers’ love and dedication.

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