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Life at Deloitte
My journey with the PENCIL organization
How Impact Day inspired future volunteerism
December 12, 2019
I didn’t develop a passion for community service until well into my twenties. There was no community service requirement at my high school, and I didn’t seek out opportunities. It’s not that I didn’t care; I just didn’t make it a priority when I should have. I was lacking that aspect of fulfillment in my life, and I simply didn’t realize it at the time.
As a young professional, my first real exposure to community service was Impact Day. Deloitte’s annual day of community service was unlike anything I’d experienced before. The opportunity to volunteer with and teach an elementary school class for the day was exciting. That experience instilled in me a sense of duty – a desire to serve my community on a regular basis, rather than just once a year on Impact Day.
The opportunity presented itself sooner than I’d thought. A colleague came to my team with the chance to participate in a mentoring program at a New York City high school through the PENCIL organization. PENCIL assists with college and career preparedness for underserved high schoolers in NYC. They also run a high school internship program, giving students exposure to the business world at a variety of companies.
At my first PENCIL session, which took place at a school in Brooklyn, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Sure, I had read through the materials we would focus on, but what did I know about working with high schoolers? Luckily, the topic was one I was already familiar with, thanks to my role as a campus recruiter. I had presented the topic to college students as part of my job. "This could be fun," I thought to myself.
The truth is, teaching high schoolers about a topic I had a lot of experience in wasn’t so different from presenting to college students. It was then that I had my “aha!” moment - I could make a meaningful impact in the community by capitalizing on skills I already had.
About a year later, I stepped in as a Deloitte site lead at the school, coordinating volunteer assignments for our bi-monthly sessions, working with PENCIL contacts on the materials, and strategizing with school administration around school-specific needs. This role was even more rewarding – now I was leading or co-leading many of the programs while building meaningful relationships with the students and watching my colleagues do the same.
I will never forget my final session as a site lead. It had taken the full school year for the 30 or so students to warm up to me and the other Deloitte volunteers. But that day’s topic, mock interviews, was one of the best we’d ever had. The students were incredibly engaged and interested, asking pertinent questions about soft skills they’d soon be able to use. After the program had wrapped up, several of the students personally thanked me for my time and support throughout the year. I was incredibly touched, and it was a great send-off.
My experience with PENCIL taught me that with a little time and dedication, we can help enrich the lives of others. Having since relocated, I’ve taken that mindset into my current role as a mentor with a different program– the Stamford Public Education Foundation. I’ve also participated
in two week-long Alternative Spring Break programs working with United Way and the greater Atlanta community. I also sit on several committees for my local animal rescue organization. My first Impact Day seven years ago inspired a passion for giving back – one that will endure for the rest of my life.
About the author: Kathryn Roberts is a campus recruiter for Deloitte Services LP and PENCIL volunteer from 2015 – 2018.