2015-01-15

City Year’s Christina Bowerman and Deloitte’s Lorraine McGlone believe in the power of mentors to help students and young professionals define their goals and understand their potential.

It’s not too often that morning brunch includes a conversation about breaking the glass ceiling or how to negotiate a starting salary. But it’s exactly what Christina Bowerman and Lorraine McGlone launched into during their first meeting as part of the Deloitte City Year mentorship program.  

Christina is serving her second year with City Year Cleveland as a team leader at East Technical High School, and Lorraine is a Specialist Leader for Strategy and Operations with Deloitte. While their day-to- day lives may seem worlds apart, both women recognize the powerful role mentors can play in helping students and young professionals define their goals and understand their potential.  “Mentorship is one of the things that appeals to me most about City Year—to always feel there’s someone who has your back,” said Christina.  “No matter what the students I serve are going through, they know I’ll be there for them the next day with a smile on my face.”

Learning How to Effectively Manage a Team

As a second year corps member, Christina has transitioned from working directly with students on a daily basis to overseeing a team of six City Year AmeriCorps members at East Technical High. Because Lorraine has years of experience as a manager, she spent one of their first meetings helping Christina explore different approaches to managing a team. They talked about setting high expectations for the people they lead, finding ways to identify their individual strengths and understand that each person often has different motivators.  To Christina, setting high expectations for City Year team members means better results for students, and ultimately higher expectations from the students themselves. Christina and Lorraine meet at least every month at Grumpy’s Café in Tremont, Cleveland. Lorraine often travels for work with Deloitte, but makes special City Year events a priority. This coming March, Christina is organizing a site-wide spelling bee for students in the six Cleveland public schools where City Year serves.  Lorraine says she’ll be there—she’s already donated an Amazon Kindle for this year’s spelling bee champion. 

“Helping children recognize their own value is so important,” said Lorraine. “By supporting Christina’s work with the students, I find it fulfills a desire to give back. And her stories about the positive experiences she and her team have with students are a real inspiration. We don’t hear those stories enough.”

Planning for a Successful Career after City Year 

Deloitte professionals like Lorraine work with a range of organizations from corporations, to universities to hospital systems in about 150 countries, and have deep professional connections and experience to share. To help Christina prepare for a career after City Year, Lorraine has started working with her on her resume and identifying contacts to help her build a professional network. Most importantly, they’ve discussed ways Christina can leverage her two years of national service with potential employers and during job interviews. Whether it’s her experience managing teams, handling conflict resolution, or leading school-wide initiatives, Lorraine sees Christina’s skills as appealing to employers.  “I often ask prospective employees to tell me about the most difficult project they’ve ever participated in,” said Lorraine. “Christina can answer that clearly and with confidence. She’s also introspective, and always looking for ways to work well with different personalities.” 

One of Lorraine’s most powerful words of advice for Christina came during their first meeting. Christina suggested that she’d be grateful for her first job in marketing out of City Year and for any salary that was offered. Lorraine was quick to point out that too many women are taught not to advocate for themselves or negotiate higher pay. She told Christina that she needs to fully believe in the value she has to offer any employer, and that when the time comes, Lorraine will be ready to coach her on how to research and negotiate a fair salary. “Having Lorraine as a mentor gives me a sense of confidence, because I know that no matter what decision I make, I have someone to process it with,” said Christina.  “If I fail or even succeed, I have someone to help me understand how I can learn from it.”

Christina and Lorraine, and all of the Deloitte City Year mentor teams have many more months to strengthen their relationships and discuss important career and life goals. But for both of them, being a mentor won’t end with the school year. Christina plans to stay in touch with a handful of the students she’s served, and stay actively engaged with corps members as a City Year alumna. And this is Lorraine’s second year as a Deloitte mentor—she does her best to stay in touch with her mentee from last year—and says she looks forward to supporting the many City Year AmeriCorps members who follow in Christina’s footsteps. 

“I grew up on the ‘wrong side of tracks’ as a child, but never knew it,” said Lorraine.  “Part of that was because I had people in my life I could rely on, and people who reached out to me. Helping Christina and the students of Cleveland who she supports is the best way to give back.”

The Deloitte City Year Mentor Program takes place in 16 City Year sites, which provides a great opportunity for corps members to connect with Deloitte professionals, and build their professional and leadership skills. Deloitte is a longstanding City Year National Leadership Sponsor. By providing financial support and pro-bono services, Deloitte helps City Year transform, scale and support the design and delivery of its services in urban public schools nationwide. This is part of Deloitte’s broader commitment to education, RightStep, a multi-faceted program focused on helping students to take the right steps to persist through high school, college and transition successfully to a career.

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