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•  Empowerment

•  Leadership

Motivational Moments

Finding Professional Development and Career Opportunities through
Volunteer Service

Melissa Maddox Barnes, Esq

Women are busy, whether we are at work outside or inside of the home. In our efforts to manage our personal lives, professional lives and now even our social media presence and internet lives, when does one actually find the time to volunteer? Although there seems to be no end to our responsibilities and not enough time to complete them, volunteerism is more crucial in helping you accomplish your goals and managing your life than you may think. There are limitless opportunities for personal and professional growth through volunteer service. Volunteerism may be the missing aspect in your life to help you reach personal fulfillment or to develop the professional skills and obtain the career of your dreams.


No matter what industry you are in it is difficult to advance without mentorship. Mentorship is the key in finding the individual guidance needed to hone your skill, avoid unnecessary pitfalls, give you the encouragement to keep pushing past failures and provide the honest feedback needed for you to nail that interview, presentation or project. Mentors help introduce you to other persons that can get you one step closer to your dream job or maybe even a job if you’re seeking employment.  


But what if your current job doesn’t offer a mentorship program, or even if they do, your mentor is less than enthusiastic about ensuring your professional development? What if you are seeking employment and do not have direct access to training or mentorship programs through an employer? The answer is simple. Find your mentor through volunteer service. Join a club, committee or group in the industry and/or cause of your interest. Seek out tasks and projects that can develop and increase your skill set. As you are serving others, ask fellow volunteers and leaders of those organizations for feedback on your performance. Volunteers are an inspiration to the organizations they serve. Leaders of those organizations are, for the most part, more than willing to provide guidance to you personally as you assist them in reaching their organization’s goals.


What type of job are you searching for? What skills do you need to develop to take your job to the next level? Is it leadership, organizational management, public speaking or presentation skills? Whatever skill is needed, there is an organization in dire need of your time and more than willing to accommodate your learning curve. If you are unemployed or are interested in entering another field altogether and need to test the waters, try volunteering with a company in that field. You will feel more confident as you stay active and gain valuable inside knowledge in order to make a more educated decision on your next move. In addition, nothing impresses interviewers more than an interviewee that not only has prior knowledge and experience at their agency, but has freely given their time and services to further the mission of that organization. It shows investment on the part of the prospective employee and leads to their investment in you by way of employment. Who knows, you may be able to volunteer your way into your dream job.


Opportunities for personal and professional growth abound through volunteer service at no cost to you except in the cost of your time. However, the cost in time is far outweighed by the benefits of personal gratification in knowing you have served and helped others and also now have access to professional development opportunities that did not otherwise exist. In volunteering, your personal and professional growth will never be capped. As long as there is a need (and there always is), therein lies an opportunity, for the betterment of all. If you would like to join an organization that focuses on self-empowerment, and service, please consider WOMA at www.womanifesting.org

Melissa Maddox-Barnes serves as Chairperson on of the Womanifesting, Inc., Board of Directors and is a passionate advocate for the empowerment of women and children. Ms. Maddox-Barnes is the General Counsel for the Housing Authority of the City of Charleston, SC which administers affordable housing programs for low to moderate income persons. Ms. Maddox-Barnes' Ms. Maddox-Barnes also serves on several local and national boards in various capacities. Ms. Maddox-Barnes is most proud of her role as the mother two children, one having an Autism Spectrum Disorder and in serving as an advocate for children with disabilities.