Photograph by Charlotte Elizabeth
Scott Carpenter is the community manager of Yelp Charleston (aka “The Yelp Guy”) and box office manager at Charleston Fashion Week® (CFW). He geeks out about Charleston and beer on a daily basis. You’ll find him collecting koozies and shoes, both for the same reason. They protect what gets him going! You can find Scott at @YelpCharleston on Instagram and Twitter.
Photograph by Ruta Elvikyte
As it turns out, volunteering can be surprisingly beneficial, not only for others, but also for yourself. In 2012, a series of events led me into the very crowded pool of job seekers in a very down economy. The decision was already made that I wanted to find a new focus to shape my future career path using an out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new type of approach. Marketing and events were my passion, but my previous position didn’t leave me with the expertise in those fields that I needed. What better way to get a crash course than to volunteer my time at events within the local community?
One of the first opportunities I came across was an application to volunteer for Charleston Fashion Week®. My initial thought was that it would be fun to get involved with such a large-scale, high-energy event. My availability was pretty “wide open” due to my current employment status, so I offered to be available anytime to increase my chances of being chosen. I was selected to be the lead volunteer in charge of the box office. Although the image of swiping credit cards and printing tickets wasn’t all too glamorous, I was excited to be part of the team.
Photograph by jballiet
I couldn’t have been more wrong about that expectation. It didn’t take long to realize this position demanded much more than your standard “enjoy the show” salutation. I was training and managing other volunteers, problem solving lost or missing tickets, and creating solutions to problems we didn’t even know existed. The box office team and I were on the front line of making sure that every guest had their tickets and were happy about the overall experience. Plus, they all arrive at about the same time… no pressure. As the week went on, the tasks became more familiar, but the stakes became higher as the shows were sold out, leaving no room for error. I quickly had to adapt the role based on the task at hand.
In only five days of volunteering, I was able to accomplish more than working for five months. New friendships were created that are still intact today, networking doors were opened that turned into long-term opportunities, and I gained invaluable experience in areas that directly translate to the necessary skills of working on events.
Volunteering for CFW not only led me to my next job, it gave me the skills and experience I needed to land my current position as the Charleston community manager for Yelp.com. As for my volunteer role with Charleston Fashion Week®, I was hired the following year to come back for the role of box office manager, and 2015 will be my fourth year back.
Looking for your big break? Click here to apply to volunteer for Charleston Fashion Week® today! Hurry—the application deadline is January 23.