Professionalism in the World of Advocacy

My experience thus far with Pittsburgh Action Against Rape has already broadened my understanding and perspective in so many ways. It is both humbling and refreshing to realize that there is so much I have to learn. One of the biggest takeaways I have had so far is learning that the way professionalism is defined is different and unique to the world of advocacy. This is because so much of the work done in this area and by this organization is relationship based. There are some circumstances where professionalism in the traditional sense is more appropriate, such as legal trials or legal advocacy meetings. However, a more ‘casual’ or approachable stance is actually valued more highly in the majority of work that occurs here. If volunteers or staff appear overly ‘professional’ as would be traditionally defined, it is far less likely that victims, survivors, or witnesses will feel comfortable opening up to them about traumatic experiences that PAAR assists with. Therefore, ‘professionalism’ as defined by the ability to productively complete the task at hand, is actually best handled by being laid back, personable, and approachable. This was something new for me to learn, but is important because I don’t want to appear unapproachable or damage the environment of trust and comfort that PAAR has worked so hard to build. This is also a valuable lesson to experience, because it taught me that professionalism is much more broadly defined than my previous experiences may have lead me to believe. In the future, I can now evaluate the culture of whatever environment I find myself in in order to most appropriately act as a professional.


One Reply to “Professionalism in the World of Advocacy”

  1. What helpful definitional work you’re doing here, Vanessa. We’ll definitely keep this in mind as you produce professional writing documents this semester! Thank you for this post!


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