Just a few years ago, while working in the online marketing field in Nashville, Emily Burdette realized she was ready to make a change.
“I started thinking about how I wanted to be remembered,” she says, “and how I wanted to make a difference.”
Seeking time and space to consider new possibilities, Emily left Tennessee to teach English in South Korea and travel throughout Asia. Discovering meaningful and enduring new friendships along the way, she ultimately felt drawn to follow a new professional direction in the non-profit world.
Her move to Austin set her on the path that eventually led to her current position as a Customer Relations Specialist with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas.
Serving as the initial point of contact for the families and volunteers reaching out to BBBS, Emily gets the ball rolling logistically when people want to become involved with the agency. By keeping these first steps moving smoothly, she plays an essential role in supporting BBBS’ mission to help all kids succeed in life.
“I find a lot of satisfaction in knowing that I’m starting the process that ultimately leads to good outcomes,” she says.
Families and potential volunteers rely on her to learn the essentials about BBBS and to decide if the agency’s programs fit their needs. If so, Emily guides them through the necessary application and screening processes, finally bringing together clients and Enrollment Specialists in-person for intake interviews.
In her customer relations role, she generally sees just the beginning of a match relationship. After helping families and volunteers move on to the interview process, her first-hand contact with them lessens. Even so, she remains enthusiastically engaged in BBBS’ progress, proudly watching the numbers on the waitlist decrease and knowing that she’s played an essential role in helping Bigs and Littles find each other.
“That’s my favorite part of the job– connecting people,” says Emily.
At other times, however, her work is more challenging. Families approaching BBBS for the first time are often facing difficult circumstances and strong emotions. “They come to us for help in all kinds of situations,” she says.
As a result, at times she finds herself offering not only information, but also an empathetic ear.
Balancing work with a variety of outside interests, Emily makes time to travel, upcycle furniture, listen to live music around town, and spend downtime with her husband and their Rottweiler. Currently, however, her favorite way to relax is to float in a sensory deprivation tank.
“I wish I had one in my home!” she says.
She and her husband also pursue a shared interest in indoor and outdoor aquaponics, enjoying a bountiful harvest of kale, spaghetti squash, lettuce, tomatoes and peppers!
Relaxing and recharging helps Emily maintain her energy and enthusiasm for her vital role as BBBS’ first point of contact with families and volunteers. Creating a positive first impression, instilling confidence and extending empathy, Emily is undeniably helping to set the course for life-changing relationships.