Emily Robison, Volunteer Recruiter-Trainer (YWCA Metro Chicago)
2010 DePaul English Alum
Fresh out of the gate, this alumnus has successfully launched herself into the field of social work. Don’t underestimate the work/internship/volunteer experience that you’re getting as an undergrad, as Emily demonstrates, it really pays off! Go on, read ahead and discover why I was amazed that she was able to find the time to complete this interview.
Underground: What year did you complete your English major at DePaul? Did you have a concentration, or did you double major or minor in another area?
Emily Robison: I completed my major during my 4th year, 3rd quarter (June 2010). My concentration was Creative Writing, and I took only poetry workshops. I double majored in Psychology with a concentration in Human Services.
U-2: Did you pursue any graduate or professional studies after you graduated?
ER: None yet.
U-3: What is your current position? Please describe a typical day at work.
ER: My title is Volunteer Recruiter/Trainer at YWCA Metro Chicago for the Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline. I create & facilitate the 50+ hour Sexual Assault Crisis Intervention Trainings for hotline & medical advocacy volunteers, new staff, and professionals. A typical day consists of me creating presentations, coordinating hotline volunteers, supervising hotline volunteers, and facilitating trainings/presentations in community centers throughout Chicago.
I am also a Contracted Prevention Educator with Rape Victim Advocates. In this setting I create and facilitate sexual assault prevention workshops with CPS students, and typically focus on clarifying consent, promoting pleasure, and sexual well-being. I do this work when I have the time, and since I started working at YWCA full time, I have been stepping back from taking on too many presentations.
I am also a Founding & Steering Committee Member of SHEER, Sexuality Health Education to End Rape. In this position, I collaborate with other members to create clear vision & goals, write private grants, plan events, obtain community partnerships, recruit members, manage online communication, and create meeting agendas. This is strictly volunteer work, so I do this when I have time or during work hours. This project is my passion, and I hope to do this full time once we have funding in the future.
U-4: Wow! How did you find your first job after graduation and/or your current position? Please be specific! (Inquiring minds want to know)
ER: My first job was at a domestic violence (DV) shelter, Neopolitan Lighthouse. I worked there from September 10 – February 11. I found that job by searching idealist.org & craigslist.org every day for work in the social services field. I had strong references from my previous volunteer/internship/work experience during college. I was a member of the Statistics & Client Support Staff there, so I provided support to our clients and input our data to the state.
I found my current YWCA job through a friend of my boss who is also a Founding & Steering member of SHEER. When applying, I used the strong references from my previous volunteer/internship/work experiences during college (I did not list my 1st job as a reference). What set me above the rest of the applicants was my involvement with SHEER & internship/volunteer work with RVA (Rape Victim Advocates) during college. Had I not heard about the job from my friend, I would have also seen it during my craigslist/idealist searches and applied that way. I wrote a strong cover letter & tailored my resume to fit the job description, and had my friends in this field read it over before submitting it. I came in to the interview knowing that I was the ideal candidate, and showed my current boss why with my confidence and knowledge of this work.
U-5: How important has networking been in your employment searches? How did you find or build contacts in your desired field?
ER: Networking is incredibly important! I found this job from a friend in the field who works at Chicago Women’s Health Center (aka Chicago’s heaven. Go there). I knew I wanted to do social work since I graduated high school, so I began volunteering at RVA my sophomore year. I built a lot of contacts and relationships there. I also worked in the Office of Diversity Education at DePaul & Center for Community Research, both of which I built strong connections with. SHEER grew out of relationships I built at RVA, and is continuing to grow through community & professional outreach. This is also fun! I get to learn from professionals in my field simply by talking with them about my views & goals, and they share theirs with me, and we build strong & healthy relationships that way.
U-6: How does your English major help you in your current position?
ER: I am writing all of the time, so the skills I learned as an English major are very important. I am consistently complimented on my writing style, and the poetry I perform has been mostly prose, and folks have liked that.
U-7: What advice would you give current English majors about their studies or extracurricular activities while they are still at DePaul?
ER: Power through! It will be hard. It will be stressful. You will not be getting enough sleep, but it’s college. You can handle it. It WILL pay off in the end if you continue to work towards what makes you feel good. If something even seems slightly interesting to you, go to the meeting, get involved in whatever way suits you. You might make a very crucial contact for later in your career.
U-8: What advice would you give to graduating students as they move into the job market?
ER: This stuff is hard. Keep your head up. Work on your own self-care and confidence, because as someone who conducts interviews with volunteers now, it is painfully obvious when an interviewee is not confident in their abilities. Love yourself!
Written by: The Underground, 2011