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City Year can prepare you for a career in marketing and geoinformation systems

City Year is a career energizer

City Year AmeriCorps members have a variety of professional development opportunities during their year of service including networking opportunities, resume and cover letter workshops, and more that help our alums transition into the professional world.

City Year Los Angeles Women's Empowerment and Corps members

Moving from City Year service to a career

When Natalie Veal (City Year LA, ’18) began her service journey, she had had dreams of becoming an urban planner. Inspired by her older brother who was working in that industry, Natalie felt it was a great way to address some of the systemic inequities that negatively impact Black and brown neighborhoods. Nonetheless, she went into her service with an open mind, and by the end of her ten months with City Year, she gained a new passion for marketing and communications—which she would eventually be able to use in the urban planning sphere.

Natalie credits this career pathway change to her time with City Year Los Angeles. By assuming various leadership positions on her team at Roosevelt High School, Natalie’s eyes were opened to new professional opportunities.

So how can you use your City Year experience to get clarity about your career path? While there’s no one “right way” to go about it, we spoke to Natalie to learn more about how service helped her make the right professional move for her.

Natalie Veal City Year service journeyA self-proclaimed introvert, Natalie was very shy growing up. But that never stopped her from constantly finding new ways to grow. At a young age, Natalie developed an insatiable curiosity and learned to make space to nurture many creative passions growing up. She participated in everything from the arts to team sports. “I believe the best way to help you grow is to get out of your comfort zone,” Natalie says.

“After college, I wanted to build my professional experience in a meaningful way before making an important career decision. I was inspired to join City Year because I’ve always enjoyed mentoring others and I especially wanted to support a community of students that are much too often underestimated. I grew up in predominantly white communities and as an Afro Latina, I never had a mentor that I could identify with, so I wanted to be the champion for students that I never had.”

While 52% of City Year alums go on to pursue careers in the education and education non-profit sector, others have successful careers in medicine and health services, business, law and tech! And throughout service, City Year offers professional development opportunities to corps members with diverse career aspirations.

“The leadership opportunities I was afforded as a corps member were transformative for me,” Natalie says. “Becoming the Communications Coordinator for my team helped me realize that I have a passion for communications and social media.” In that role, Natalie was the designated content creator and storyteller for her team’s social media page.

Natalie especially enjoyed creating content that celebrated her students’ growth and achievements over the course of the year. This was something new for her but, trying new things and going outside of her comfort zone was something she had always enjoyed.

“Social media had been a hobby of mine and I was curious to know how I could put those skills to work,” Natalie says. “It really got me thinking about potentially pursuing a career in communications or marketing.”

Recognizing Natalie’s interest and passion for her coordinator role, City Year paired Natalie with a marketing professional at Deloitte. “My Deloitte mentorship taught me about the diversity of industries and career trajectories I could take with a marketing profession. My mentor, Sarell Diamond, consistently encouraged me and gave me the confidence in my potential to excel.” Natalie says. “While I had little experience she provided me with insight about the benefits of a marketing career and affirmed the strengths she saw in me that I did not recognize. Her success as a woman of color in a corporate marketing setting also sparked my motivation to challenge myself to make my mark.Natalie Veal professional development

After her service year, Natalie was hired as a Marketing and Communications Coordinator with City Year Los Angeles before landing a role with leading geographic information systems (GIS) mapping software company Esri—the global market leader in geographic information systems (GIS), offering powerful mapping and spatial analytics technology. Esri’s software is deployed in more than 350,000 organizations including the world’s largest cities, most national governments, 75% of the Fortune 500, and more than 7,000 colleges and universities.

As the Marketing Specialist for Community Development and Nonprofits at Esri, Natalie oversees communication with state and local government, as well as nonprofits. Natalie also helps her team make sense of complex market data—a skill she also refined as an AmeriCorps member using student-level data to coach her student—and applies her in-depth sense of the systems of inequity to help organizations ask the right questions when making impactful location-based choices.

“I educate customers and the market on why it is important to take what we call a “geographic approach” approach to urban planning,” Natalie says. “This simply means that by putting location or community at the forefront of urban planning, state and local governments can determine how their community designs can have the greatest impact and improve the quality of life. For example, affordable housing is a huge issue right now with urban planners. They have to know where to implement new housing developments while considering outcomes like gentrification.”

Natalie’s journey from corps member to marketing specialist for a leading Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology company shows how you leverage your City Year service to grow your skillset, nurture new interests and use your training to build the career that’s perfect for you.

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