This past summer – and now early fall – has been largely about trying new things while continuing the job hunt. Varied things like launching this Blog, running a couple of 5Ks for the first time ever after a couple months of training and attending a local political campaign kickoff event.

I also started doing something I haven’t done since changing beds while candy-striping at the local Hospital back in the 1980s and doing a recurring radio news broadcast at a Braille library in the 1990s: I volunteered my time and started working for free. Guess that keeps my once-a-decade pattern going!

Volunteering has been a part of my memory since childhood, and I owe the lion’s share of that to my Mom. My Mom was an elementary school teacher, supporting both she and my Dad while he completed his MBA studies full-time when they were newlyweds. After I was born, Mom became a full-time stay at home Mom and Dad went back to work full-time. This was the late 1960s so it was perhaps generally more expected that these things would happen.

But what I remember about my Mom when I was younger was that she was never the watch-the-soaps-all-day type of stay at home Mom. Nope, along with raising my brothers and me she was an active volunteer and hard-core at that. The calendar was always out on the kitchen counter, full of blue-ink circles, red-ink birthday reminders, scribbles and to-dos. The phone was always, always ringing. People were coming and going all day long in and out of our house for meetings or maybe a friendly game of Bridge.

I can’t begin to compare my volunteer work with her decades of accomplishments, but I do understand and appreciate the importance for us to take part whenever we can to give back to our community, and I thank her for that message and influence.

In September I began working pro bono for a longtime colleague and friend. He’s launched a consulting firm and I am working around 8-10 hours a week providing very basic project management to the back-end structure of the business as we get foundations built, procedures put in place, while our sales team passionately pursues our first win (and the bank – meanwhile and hopefully – says YES to a funding loan).

Frankly, I was both humbled and honored to be asked to do this work. He and I have known eachother for about ten years, so we already have an essential bond of rapport and trust built up. We’re about the same age and have pretty much grown up professionally together through good, bad and really, really ugly. And we both know what we’re like on a bad day too which is very important and not necessarily what you would discover about a new hire right away!

Meanwhile, in support for our local community and to promote our business, he has participated on panels at a local college with classes focused on Resume Writing and Interviewing. And when he was invited to return recently he asked me to join him. I was very honored to be asked and more than happy to donate my time to do so. I can be a bit long-winded about lots of things, so any speaking practice in public with pressure to keep answers short and sweet is good!

I found it ironic to be speaking to a class about interviewing and resume writing when I too could be learning from this as well! But once I started speaking about the work A and I are doing, my passion for it and answered questions from the class it all just flowed seamlessly. It felt great to speak about past experiences, things to do and not do when interviewing and to share real-life stories supplementing things that might be taught by the instructor from a textbook! And to see people take notes while you’re speaking? Wow.

But I didn’t get a chance to share my best interviewing tip on how it boils down to comfort – dress professionally but also stay comfortable and wear the right socks/hosiery/underwear underneath it all. Maybe I’ll get to that next time.