Alumni Spotlight: Alex Cooke
Served: City Year Baton Rouge 2011
Current Occupation: Corporate Partnerships Manager at City Year Boston
Fun Fact: Alex comes from a true City Year family—his sister is currently serving her second year with City Year Boston, and his mother has written numerous recommendations for prospective corps members as the Director of Academic and Career Advising at Keene State College!
City Year Boston (CYB): What first attracted you to City Year?
Alex Cooke (AC): My best friend from college was accepted into the City Year New Orleans corps, and I had no idea what I wanted to do after college. So my intent was to look into service programs because I developed a passion for service in high school but I didn’t really have an opportunity to do it in college. I figured I would do something beneficial and productive for a year and treat it as a way to figure out what I wanted to do and what I wanted my career trajectory to be.
But within my first two weeks as a corps member, I realized how powerful it was to be around people who were just overall mission-oriented, and how much I could learn from my peers. In college, I was very individualized in what I wanted to accomplish, and going to City Year I realized how important it is to accomplish tasks as team, and incorporate different perspectives and ideas into a final product.
CYB: Describe your transition from City Year to your current career.
AC: I was a Program Manager for three years before joining the Development team. I would say that the PM role is definitely the hardest professional job I’ve ever had, but has been the most rewarding. […] The side of the job that inspired me the most was knowing how powerful and impactful these corps members are and were, but it was not until they were in the position of articulating their service experience to people who weren’t familiar with it, when I saw them realize how powerful and impactful they were. That’s why I decided to transition to development. That’s really the bulk of my job—identifying opportunities for external champions to interact with our corps members so they can tell their stories and broaden the footprint we have on the community. Through those opportunities, I’ve seen individuals hear corps members’ stories and want to educate their friends and families about City Year. And that’s the only way we’re going to reach the amount of students that we need to here in Boston.
CYB: What is your current job and title? What do you do in this role?
AC: I’m a Corporate Partnerships Manager with City Year Boston. I always explain my role as two-fold: the first component is stewarding a subset of our current team sponsors and champions. Part of that engagement is allowing them the opportunity to interact with the teams they sponsor, whether that’s through school based events, physical service days, or something else. Helping them to physically understand what they are investing in—and that’s our service.
And then the second component of my job is identifying new individuals to invest in our work, which can be through information sessions like our Be The Change Breakfasts, specialty market events, or volunteer opportunities in our schools. I’ve realized the most impactful way to do that is through corps member engagement, because that’s who can really speak most meaningfully about our service.
CYB: What do you love most about your job?
AC: I love seeing someone become a champion of City Year. An individual who sits down and the first interaction we have with them is an informational session, but then their desire to get involved with City Year just constantly grows from then on. Even though I’ve only been in Development for two years, I’ve seen companies go from not being familiar with what City Year does, to a point where they are craving more interaction with corps members not just for themselves or their companies, but also for their own personal networks. What I do now is essentially serve the link between people outside of the school and in school service, and that’s exciting.
Interested in learning more about how your company can connect with City Year Boston? Reach out to Alex with any questions!