For National Volunteer Month, we’re sharing stories of volunteers who are impacting the lives of StreetWise mentees and job seekers.
by StreetWise Partners
April 17th, 2023
The first time Maya Wilson volunteered for StreetWise Partners was in 2011, when a friend invited her to volunteer for Mock Interview Day. She recalls how well prepared and polished the mentees were during their interviews.
She wanted to get more involved but didn’t have availability at that time to commit to being a mentor. Fast forward 10 years and the experience hadn’t left her. In 2021, Maya signed up to be a StreetWise Partners mentor. She’s served as a mentor for three program cycles, as a lead volunteer facilitating parts of the 13-week program, and on the organization’s Washington, D.C. Volunteer Leadership Board.
“When one is navigating the job search process, it’s good to have someone who can provide guidance, support, and assistance,” says Maya. “I want to be that person. Having served on interview panels and navigated the job search process numerous times, I am able to relate to mentees who are job seekers, and I want to guide them and provide support as they learn important skills they may not otherwise learn.”
Maya’s motto: How can I be of service?
In her current position as a Senior Consultant at Capgemini Government Solutions (and in previous roles), Maya has largely focused on business development. She also shines when it comes to professional development.
“Being of service is what speaks to me,” she says. “My mission is to help people.”
Whether it’s teaching English to speakers of other languages or helping build lunchrooms for students in Nicaragua, Maya has always heeded a calling to serve. And now, the StreetWise community benefits from Maya’s passion for giving back.
Making an impact
When Maya works with a mentee, she brings all of her personal and professional experience to the table to help the mentee put their best foot forward in an interview — everything from understanding the skills and experience an employer is seeking, to creating a narrative for why they’re the best person for the role, to standing out with bold questions. And to do this well, she’s always working to develop a relationship built on trust, respect, and open communication.
“It’s inspiring and breathtaking to see how a mentee grows and develops throughout the program,” Maya says. “Even midway through the cycle, it can feel like you’re talking to a totally different person, as they start to carry themselves with more confidence.”
Maya has even had the opportunity to make an impact beyond her assigned mentee. When she got a call from StreetWise to see if she’d be available to help a graduate of the program prep for an interview, she was all in. On Saturday, they spent five hours on a Zoom call preparing for a Monday interview, fine-tuning the resume, looking at the job description, and practicing answers to potential interview questions. They also worked together to prep for the second round interview.
The work paid off. The graduate aced both interviews and landed her dream job, a communications role at a prominent global nonprofit organization.
Following the interview, the job seeker shared how much she appreciated Maya’s energy, willingness to help, and patience. As she put it, “It was wonderful to see that someone believed in me — that alone helped my confidence.”
That’s exactly what Maya was going for. “I wanted her to know that she’s not alone in this process,” she says, “and that she has a community that believes in her and wants her to do her best.”
Considering mentoring? Here’s Maya’s advice.
First, advises Maya, is to make sure you can commit to the program 100% and wholeheartedly. Mentees want to know that you’re committed to their success.
Second, Maya suggests reflecting on your own experiences: Did you have a trusted mentor to give you guidance and answer questions? If yes, how has that impacted your life, and how can you continue that legacy of mentorship? If no, how could having a mentor have impacted your career, and why not serve that role for someone else in the professional world?
Finally, know that it is a decision you’ll never regret. Not only will you learn about the mentee, but you’ll also learn things about yourself and develop your own leadership and communication skills, she says.
Learn more about volunteering
StreetWise Partners has a variety of volunteer opportunities available in New York and Washington D.C., including our Mentorship program, Mock Interview Day, and Speed Networking. We’d love to have you as part of our community! Sign up to learn more today.