Name: Chris Mann
Class Year: 2000
Title: Vice President, Corporate Partnerships
Organization Name: City Year, Inc.
1. In one sentence, what does your job entail?
My job is to work with major companies on ways to partner with City Year, putting their resources, people and expertise to use helping students and schools succeed.
2. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?
I was very interested in sports marketing and event management as a potential career. Doing an internship with the Special Olympics my junior year really opened me up to the realization that I could have a job where I was focused on those things while also doing good. John Hayes ’91 was working in the development office at Holy Cross and I was lucky to have him become a mentor to me while I was leading the senior class gift effort. After talking a bit about what I was looking for in a career, John thankfully connected me with Cyndi (Carton) O’Brien ’93, leading to my first interview and job at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute & The Jimmy Fund and starting me on my career path at the intersection of companies and causes coming together to drive better business and greater good.
3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?
I was a member of the track & field team, helped start the Gateways summer orientation program, served as senior class president, and did two Spring Break service trips with Habitat for Humanity among other activities. Each gave me an opportunity to make long-term friendships, build my skills at being part of and leading teams, and managing the busy schedule gave me a great head in adjusting to the workplace.
4. What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?
I was a psychology major with a minor in art history. Neither were directly related to my career path, but in hindsight I do think they both taught lessons about what it means to be human. The liberal arts education and academic rigor at Holy Cross also really helped me to develop into a creative thinker, a clear & concise writer, and hopefully a life-long learner.
5. What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?
In addition to the critical thinking and writing skills, I think building relationships across so many different groups of people including fellow students, teammates & coaches, professors & administrators, and future students and their parents through all of my activities really helped me. It forced me out of my comfort zone and made me much more comfortable in my own skin. That ability to connect with others has been critical as I have pursued more public and people-oriented jobs in fundraising, marketing and communications.
6. What advice do you have for students on campus today?
I would advise students to be patient and kind with themselves. There is so much pressure in today’s world to live up to your own and others expectations. To find the right job, to be successful, to present yourself in a certain way. Building a career and a life for yourself is something that happens gradually over time, not all at once. I was really fortunate to receive some good advice early on to find work that you are personally passionate about with people who can help you learn and grow. I’ve tried to follow that throughout my career and it has worked out very well for me.