Wes Butler wasn’t sure he had the right clothes for his first day of United Way of Central Alabama’s Loaned Executive Program.
“My supervisor [for my internship] at Alabama Power called me and said, ‘I’ve got this incredible opportunity for you. Meet me tomorrow morning in the conference room – business formal,’” Butler said. “I was excited, until I realized…I didn’t have a suit.” Luckily, the Homewood native and business major in his senior year at Birmingham Southern College found a suit in the back of his closet, and his unexpected adventure began.
The Loaned Executive Program brings professionals of all ages and backgrounds to United Way of Central Alabama for 13 weeks, during which they develop professional skills like public speaking, sales training and time management while raising money for UWCA’s annual campaign. Because of the fast-paced, demanding nature of the work, it’s rare for full-time students to be able to participate, but Wes’s newfound passion for United Way, along with the patience of his professors, have paved a path forward, and for that, he’s grateful.
“The Loaned Executive Program is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me,” he said. “It’s done so much for me. I really feel like it’s made me a better person.”
Through the Loaned Executive Program, Wes has been able to see United Way’s impact on Central Alabama – giving him the chance to view his lifelong home with fresh eyes and gain new understanding of the community. But that’s not the only positive outcome he’ll walk away
with when the program ends in November. While he cites this personal growth as the most significant effect, he notes that serving as a Loaned Executive has also allowed him to grow his professional skill set and, in particular, his ability to communicate with different audiences on a variety of levels.
“The same presentation won’t work for every group,” he said. “So I’ve learned how to get a sense of how to talk about United Way in a way that will resonate with the group I’m standing in front of. Sometimes that’s the hard numbers, and other times it’s the human stories. In a way, the program has taught me how to talk to people.”
This aspect of the program has given the student, who’s quickly approaching graduation, unique insight into his studies as a business major through an inside look at the corporate world, as each of the many businesses he works with has its own office culture. Another plus? He’s practicing the professional interpersonal skills that are so important to the intimidating interview process.
Wes hopes to repeat the Loaned Executive Program again one day.
“I can’t even put into words how much it’s done for me,” he said. “I really think it’s one of the best opportunities you can take advantage of as a community servant.”