For the second year in row, Promise Corps hosted the Alternative Careers in Education and Service Career Panel – otherwise known as ACES – in early April. Panelists are recruited from various career fields to match the interests of current Promise Corps members, and all AmeriCorps members serving across all of Philadelphia are invited to attend the panel session, participate in Q&A and enjoy refreshments and networking immediately following the event.
This year’s panelists represented a variety of roles in social work, healthcare and government positions. Also represented were current and past graduate students that will soon be completing their Masters in Social Work and moving into their own next steps in their career fields.
Panelists responded to questions on interviewing, job searching and shared tips on what to work on now that members are starting to think about their future careers. Panelists were nearly unanimous in their advice to gain as much experience as possible and to not limit yourself in any way.
David Wengert, panelist and current social worker in the Housing Unit at Community Legal Services shared; “Build your expertise in the social work field. You can go in as a generalist and pivot towards your passion.” This was followed by similar sentiments from the Executive Director of WES Health System, LaJewel Harrison when she shared; ““It’s ok to not know, don’t stop. Keep trying to find that good fit for what feels good. Keep moving forward.”
On the topic of interviewing, David shared great advice to make sure you prepare using a format that includes the C.A.R. method; set the context, explain the action you took and be explicit about the result you received. It was discussed that too often excellent candidates are not able to point to specifics when interviewing for positions in this field, a place where problem solving and critical thinking are paramount. Using this method can help highlight the essential skills needed within any role you’re interested in.
After emphasizing gaining broad experience and not establishing limits as you start your career, the second theme panelists agreed on was their own personal reflection on their current role – again almost unanimously stating they had no idea they’d be in their current role but because of learning new skills and growing into new experiences, they’ve found their true passion and continue to grow as professionals.
Andrea October, Trauma and Resilience Coordinator from the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disability Services wisely shared; “There is no crystal ball for your future. I thought I wanted to be in a different place but actually want to be right where I am right now, doing this. Try not to limit yourself to what you don’t want to do. Don’t focus on that.”
Promise Corps would like to thank all of the panelists for participating, sharing their perspectives and personal journeys and also thank all of the AmeriCorps and service programs that joined us, stay tuned for next year!
Thank you to our panelists:
Andrea October; Trauma Resilience Training Coordinator, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS)
Bernard Brown; State Program Director for the Corporation for National and Community Service, Philadelphia, PA
Christina Donaldson; adoption coordinator
David Wengert; Social Worker in the Housing Unit at Community Legal Services
Lisa White; Counselor, University of Pennsylvania Upward Bound Math & Science Program
LaJewel Harrison; Executive Director, WES Health System
Lindsey Anderson; MSW Intern, Therapist, CHANCES
Willa Beckman; Therapist, Joseph J. Peter’s Institute