Helen Costa, Take Ten Team Manager and Volunteer
“So explain to me, what are some skills you have developed from your volunteer experience?” I bet that you will get asked this question during an interview. Recruiters LOVE this question. It throws you off a little and makes you uneasy because how many times do you reflect on what you’re learning when you’re teaching someone else? So here is how I answer it, “As a Take Ten volunteer, I developed interpersonal skills and the ability to act under pressure.”
When you are placed in a classroom with twenty, thirteen-year-old boys half of whom have been on probation, it is sink or swim. You have two options: either learn how to teach pre-teens about non-violence and healthy conflict resolution or you do not and the students continue with their current means of dealing with conflict. For most Notre Dame students, this atmosphere is about as foreign as rural China. Just like China, you have to learn a new language. Know your audience and adapt your communication style. It is difficult. I can hardly remember high school let alone middle school, and with many of these kids, you can’t relate. You learn from trial and error. Over time, you understand how to talk with these kids and teach them the importance of why you shouldn’t hit someone or cuss them out when they make you angry. This process gave me the time and the experience to develop my interpersonal skills. Knowing how to adapt to your audience and be effective is important for my future in the business realm.
Murphy’s Law can be applied to Take Ten. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. No matter how many times you have gone through your materials, nothing will ever go as planned. When plans fall through, what occurs? What happens when you are standing up at the front of the class and you draw a blank? The pressure is on. The kids are waiting for you to mess up. In this situation, you have to learn to think quickly on your feet, be assertive and act with confidence. For most of us, we can’t even assert our decision on a choice of after dinner dessert. This ability to think under pressure is an incredibly useful skill. I can guarantee you that your job will require you to think on your feet. Becoming an assertive, confident, and quick worker will set you apart from your colleagues who never had to manage twenty, thirteen year olds. Oftentimes, education programs seem to be targeted toward education majors, but that is not the case. Take Ten can provide students of any major the skills necessary for a successful career and, more generally, for life.