AEO associates share our commitment to doing better, being better and building a better world. We’re proud to spotlight our people who are making a real and lasting impact in their communities.
Maple, Manager – Merch Business Strategies, Aerie is a volunteer mentor for Pennsylvania Women Works 3 Cups of Coffee where she connects with job-seekers to help them strengthen their interview skills, network, and create a customized career plan. Keep reading to learn more about the connections Maple is building with like-minded women and how her mentees are helping her to learn and grow in her own career.
Tell us about your volunteer service with PA Women Work.
I am a mentor for the Pennsylvania Women Work 3 Cups of Coffee program. I get matched with mentees based on my experiences and what they are looking to learn, and we meet at least three times, often over a cup of coffee (or chai for me… still not a coffee drinker!). They also occasionally tap volunteers to hold mock interviews, which I have not yet participated in, but am looking forward to deepening my involvement as new opportunities arise.
Why is volunteering at PA Women Work important to you?
I want to support fellow women, cheering them on and providing guidance and shared experience as they move ahead with their educational and career goals. It’s really important to me to build a sense of community – especially after living through the COVID-19 pandemic, when I felt myself draw inward and tighten my circle to only very close family and friends – and PA Women Work has provided me with a way to connect with new people throughout Pittsburgh.
How long have you been volunteering at PA Women Work?
I just recently began volunteering with PA Women Work in the fall of 2022! I learned of this workforce development organization after reading about the AEO Foundation Community Grant that they received to support their 3 Cups of Coffee Grad program. I had been thinking for a while about finding a new organization to volunteer for after falling off the wagon for several years, and I have always loved talking about career growth and mentoring others. It felt like such a perfect fit when I read the description of the organization’s work that I signed up right away to be a volunteer!
How do you think that being an active participant in your community helps to Build a Better World?
I think participating in the community keeps us motivated to build a better world for ALL people. It’s pretty straightforward to improve things just for myself and my inner circle, right? I feel very fortunate to live a good life, and by being connected to others in my community, I am better able to understand and empathize with those whose struggles are different from mine. That empathy keeps me invested, not just in continuing to volunteer my time and contribute to my community, but also to speak up for issues that don’t directly affect me and lend support in other ways.
What are some of the benefits you have found in volunteering? What have you learned?
I value the opportunity to meet other like-minded women and expand my professional network through this particular program. Even though I’m a mentor, I’m still fairly early in my career and have been learning a lot from my mentees as well, as they give me glimpses into different industries or roles that I’m not familiar with.