by Halicia Lyttle, AmeriCorps member serving on the Staples Inc. team at Rogers Middle School

“You can’t be afraid to invest in yourself” is just one of the many pieces of advice that my mentor Riko Bol (City Year alumnus '10, '11) shared with me this year.

Riko Bol is the HQ Marketing Operations Associate for City Year, Inc. I was fortunate enough to be connected with Riko through City Year Boston’s Mentoring Program, which pairs current AmeriCorps members with mentors from  alumni, City Year staff members, or partners and champions beyond the organization.

During our first meeting, Riko and I spent most of our time getting to know each other, but I could not avoid the dreaded question, “What are your plans after City Year?” I immediately became overwhelmed and began talking about graduate school and how unsure I was about what I wanted to study. I also explained that I want to work in many different areas, but I do not know which one is best suited for me.

Riko reassured me that it was normal to feel this way and that, as my mentor, he will be dedicated to helping me plan and prepare for life after City Year. And in these last few months, he has done just that.

Not only has Riko helped me think about life after City Year, he has also offered me professional guidance and best practices to enhance my corps member experience. Riko really stresses how important it is that I first have a plan to achieve any of my goals. Therefore, he suggests that I set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely (SMART) goals. As someone who identifies with a visionary leadership style, Riko helped me realize that I was putting too much emphasis on my vision at the expense of action—and taking action is something I can develop as the year moves forward.

Overall, it has been a great experiencing having Riko as a mentor. He has provided me with the guidance I need to take the first step in creating a concrete plan and accomplishing my goals. His experience is an invaluable tool that is helping me navigate my corps year and the field that I choose to go in after City Year. He has encouraged me to really find my inner voice, challenge myself, and simply invest in myself. 

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