Posted by Maruta Vitols
I had just about given up...
I had just about given up.
          Having completed all of my required coursework to obtain my professional certificate in college counseling from the UCLA Extension School, I was ready for the final, hands-on requirement of 65 hours of a “Practicum” counseling actual students. The program administrators in California suggested that I contact local high schools and other independent college consultants (such as myself) in order to find a place to complete these hours of counseling. Sounded simple enough. After all, I was already counseling local students pro-bono for my start-up business A+ College Consulting, I had a Ph.D., and I had many years of college admission experience, having both worked as a staff member in a college admission office AND as a faculty application reader and voting Admission Committee member. Folks should be jumping at the chance to receive free, highly-skilled labor to help their students, right?
          What followed was an exasperating cascade of rejections and roadblocks. Local school guidance counselors either ignored me or turned me down outright (even my alma mater, Newton South High School, refused my offer to volunteer). I contacted my national professional organization, Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), and asked for advice. While I received many different recommendation, ranging from checking out the local Boys and Girls Club to contacting the Boston Public Library’s program to assist people with their college applications, nothing panned out.
          Having exhausted so many different avenues, I was running out of time to secure a venue, complete my paperwork, and to graduate on time in March 2018, as I had hoped. Dejected, I went to the WBG Connects General Meeting that December 2017 morning thinking: “Why not? I should just ask the members for help. It can’t hurt, I have nothing lose, and I might as well try one more time before I resolve myself to just having to complete my certificate program one quarter later.”
          I am SO glad that I asked for help at that meeting! In addition to receiving encouragement from fellow my fellow female entrepreneurs, member Katelyn Atwater e-mailed me soon after the meeting, e-introducing me to a family friend who happened to work as a guidance counselor at Milford High School. After several e-mail exchanges and 2 in-person interviews, I was accepted to volunteer for 65 hours at Milford High, starting January 2018! Katelyn’s connection made all the difference! Because of her generosity to take the time to think about her contacts and to put me in touch with someone who could help me, I am about to complete my required Practicum hours at Milford High, and will graduate with a professional certificate in college counseling on March 12, 2018.
          WBG Connects helped my career goals in a real, tangible, and immediate way, and I am so grateful to both Katelyn for her assistance and for this group of amazing women dedicated to supporting each other on their life paths. My challenge to you is as follows: can you think of a way you are able to help a WBG Connects member? Or, do you need help with something in your business, but haven’t reached out? Please learn from my story and see how you can contribute to WBG’s culture of women supporting women. It made a huge difference in my life!