One of the reasons I transitioned from Perficient to Deloitte was the allure of a local office, and all the events and networking activities that come with it. In the past one year at Deloitte, I have definitely enjoyed this opportunity and made the best use of it.
As a Community Involvement lead for WIN (Women’s Initiative Network) at Deloitte, I coordinate partnerships with local charities and NGOs and organize events to strengthen these partnerships. Last year we did a clothing drive across all bay area offices and donated a lot of interview appropriate business attire to Dress for Success and St. Anthony’s Foundation. Our partnership with Dress for success is fairly new and I am very happy with the relationship we have maintained so far. Unlike other NGOs, DFS does not need your money; it rather seeks your services to help their cause. I don’t want to get into the details of what DFS does, you can check out the link for details.
Yesterday we organized a Deloitte Volunteer day for DFS. The objective was to go and volunteer our time and skills to the women who come to DFS to seek help for a variety of reasons. And that is where I got my one on one with some real people with real problems. It might sound clichéd but I got a very heavy dose of reality in just three hours. It was like drinking the strongest espresso one after the other. At the end of it, I was exhausted, speechless and emotional. To the extent that I could not even hide the tears of empathy that rolled down my cheeks.
I was assigned three women and I had to help them re write their resumes, discuss some basics of interview etiquette and finally engage in a role-play with them. These three women I worked with were as diverse as a set I have ever seen or worked with.
A – a 41 years old immigrant from Laos, a drug addict, terminated by 11 employers on charges of drug abuse. Has had multiple relapses of addiction, and is now finally stable and looking for a job to make ends meet.
B – a 32 years old mother of two, coming back to work after 6 years with no college education.
C – a 61 years old transgender individual with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from UIUC. Moved to San Francisco after being victimized by his employers after they discovered his unique situation. Currently supported by the government but needs more cash to make ends meet.
Each of them had one need – a job to feed themselves (and their kids). Amidst their diversity I also noticed how their faith in religion and some sort of God was the only thing common to them. They were desperate for help and welcomed whatever I had to offer with gratitude. When A held my hands after the session and used the words “you empowered me today”, a gush of emotions overcame me and I cried. I told her I don’t have those powers and she hugged me.
While talking to each of them I realized how miniscule my problems are. How simplified my life is and how unreal is the world that I live in. I realized how much I enjoyed being with these people; people who have complex needs. I enjoyed trying to solve their problems. That’s what I do for a living anyways – I solve problems – and I realized how I should rather be solving their problems than those of corporate giants. I also realized how thankless I am to all the goodness in life. I also missed my Dad, the only person I know who would have understood what I was going through.
May be these are all just fleeting thoughts and I will never act upon them. But I felt a twitch and perhaps that’s a sign of my reality.