In honor of National Volunteer Month, we’re proud to feature a blog from one of our dedicated SCORE volunteers, Jeanne Rossomme.
I moved to the Washington DC area from Miami, FL in 2003 with my husband and three small but very active boys, ages 3, 5 and 8. I had just left an academic studies program and was trying to figure out my next career steps. While I was very excited to be in a vibrant metropolitan area, I had no friends, family or professional connections. I was thinking about starting my own business to gain independence and flexibility. But other than that vague goal, I had no idea where to start. I had heard of SCORE, and the SCORE DC chapter immediately embraced me and put me to work teaching the local marketing workshops and mentoring clients.
Since 2003, I have had various roles within SCORE, speaking at conferences, writing for this blog, helping with small business research, and many others.
But the term “volunteer” somehow seems wrong, as I have been more the receiver than the giver in many ways:
- Lots of learning. Even though I was officially the “expert” teaching various SCORE marketing workshops and advising individual clients, in every class I learned something new. Entrepreneurs told me of new apps and software; and most importantly, what worked or didn’t, given a rapidly changing marketing landscape. SCORE created an environment where we all “passed it on.”
- Being there at the birth. One of the great honors and pleasures in working with entrepreneurs is seeing the light come on and the pieces come together: a musician or artist being able to get paid for his or her creativity and talent, a brilliant tech person who could envision how to disrupt an industry, or someone who wanted to just leave a stifling big business or government job.
- A great network of fellow business owners. Whether they are other SCORE mentors, people in workshops or just others I have met along the way, I find I have an amazing group that I can go to for questions or advice. For example, I was working with a client recently and needed to understand the dynamics of a new industry. I could reach out to my network, and get the wisdom of people who had deep experience and were willing to share those insights to help.
- Vetted vendors. Via my SCORE network, I can get a great list of suggestions when I need vendors, such as SEO experts, graphic designers, accountants, etc.
- Grounded picture of Small Business USA. I have a better feeling for the real struggles and triumphs of small businesses. Even though small businesses make up over 98% of all companies in the US, politicians and media often do not report the whole picture. Working with SCORE, I have seen the grassroots impact of important policies, such as new laws, access to loans, employee healthcare availability, etc.
- Part of my community. I feel more connected with different parts of my community. For example, for some months I was a SCORE mentor in a neighborhood filled with new immigrant entrepreneurs. Another time I was asked to speak at a conference in an enterprise zone in DC. Those experiences help me connect with different areas and different groups who all shared the same entrepreneurial goals.
- Spirit of helping and growth. I am always humbled by the number of new business owners that created an adjoining non-profit to give back to the community. Or who bake in employment and internships to give employment to others. I feel lucky indeed to be part of this optimistic spirit and openness.
If you’re looking for a truly rewarding volunteering experience, think about becoming a SCORE volunteer.