Program Coordinator FAQs
Program Coordinator (PC) applicants often have questions about what the role is really like. Here are answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions.
What is it like to work at iMentor?
iMentor is both a fun and challenging place to work. The culture at iMentor is warm and engaging and the staff are motivated and collegial. The result is an environment in which you might be competing at the office Winter Olympics one hour and deciding how to tweak iMentor curriculum in the next. As a rapidly expanding organization, the environment at iMentor is fast-paced and exciting. We are constantly challenged to do our best work as a team because everyone holds themselves to a high standard. Everyone is passionate about our mission and creative in how to serve our participants.
What is the most rewarding part of being a program coordinator?
One of the most rewarding parts of being a program coordinator is being able to split your week between the office and the classroom. The balance between being part of a stimulating workplace environment and interacting with students in a classroom setting is fantastic. The iMentor PC team is full of smart, passionate people who care about the work that they do, and we don't take for granted the fact that we contribute to such an amazing team on a daily basis. In the classroom and at events you get to see mentees build relationships with their mentors, and it's an amazing process to be a part of. Plus, you get great classroom management experience without having to grade papers!
What is the toughest part of the job?
Program Coordinators have a wide range of responsibilities that create many competing tasks. You must work efficiently while staying detail-oriented and maintaining a high level of quality. There may be 20 items on your "to-do" list and time to complete only 10 of them. And as a PC, you are the person holding yourself accountable for this work. You receive a great deal of training and support on how to manage these competing demands but it can be stressful at times. It can also feel daunting to facilitate the relationships for 100 mentees and 100 mentors as you try to build deep, lasting relationships and give individualized attention to all program participants.
What is a typical month like for a program coordinator?
It depends on what month it is! We work very closely with the New York City public school calendar, which means our programming heavily depends on what's going on at our schools at any given time of year. The fall is probably the busiest -- that's when we're introducing ourselves to our schools, matching students with mentors, and getting our programming off the ground. It ebbs and flows from there, with the summer allowing for a bit of down time.
I'm a part-time graduate student. Can I continue my studies while working as a PC?
Because PCs must be available evenings and weekends to staff events for mentor-mentee pairs, and those events may occur on any night, the position is not compatible with being a part-time student. Many PCs join us after finishing their graduate degrees, or between undergraduate and graduate school. The position is a great way to get real, hands-on experience before going back to complete your advanced studies.
Do program coordinators have opportunities to work with other iMentor departments?
Yes. We have monthly all-staff meetings during which all departments come together to talk about activities and updates across the organization. There is always the opportunity to sit down with someone in a different department to learn more about what they do, to talk about what you do, to ask for help or advice, or to collaborate on projects. Some of those opportunities will need to be sought out on your end, but there is certainly a sense of transparency between departments that is not typical of many organizations.
How will becoming a program coordinator help me to develop my skills and grow as a professional?
PCs gain experience in a range of skill sets: curriculum and lesson planning, classroom management, event planning and execution, public speaking, and communicating with diverse program stakeholders, among many others. You are also exposed to the current theory and best practices in youth development and education, civic engagement and volunteerism, and nonprofit leadership. You also gain firsthand experience both in and out of the classroom in New York City public schools, one of the country’s most innovative and challenging public school systems.
In addition to on-the-job learning, every staff member receives a professional development budget, and Program Managers work with PCs to create an individualized professional development plan that includes both short-term and long-term goals. PCs pursue these goals through classes, webinars, networking events, reading material, mentoring, workshops, and more.
What kind of career trajectory may result from my role as a program coordinator?
In the past, select PCs who have chosen to continue their careers at iMentor have set strategic development goals and applied to positions in other departments or moved up the ranks to positions on our Senior Leadership Team. In fact, both our current CEO and our Director of Curricula began as Program Coordinators! Some PCs decide that, after a couple of years in the role, they are ready to move on to new things, and we have advised them on applying to graduate school or polishing their resumes for roles with other organizations. The skills that PCs gain at iMentor are transferrable to many other careers; where you go from here is only restricted by your imagination!
How competitive is the hiring process?
All hiring at iMentor is extremely competitive, and the Program Coordinator role is no exception. For the 2010-2011 school year we received approximately 500 applications and hired 12 PCs. That doesn’t mean that there is one perfect resume or set of experiences that lends itself well to becoming a PC. Our staff bios are proof that we welcome candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds, fields of study and experiences. We never know where our next great Program Coordinator will hail from, and we sincerely hope that you will apply.