When leaders of the PMI Baltimore Chapter identified that a significant number of their chapter members were in the later years of their careers, they knew something had to be done to ensure a sustainable future for the organization.
Chapter leaders began discussing strategies for enhancing their outreach to young project managers. An opportunity presented itself when Eric Perlstein, PMP, PMI Baltimore Chapter president, had a conversation with one of his close friends who happens to be a board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS). They began brainstorming about a mutually beneficial partnership between the two organizations.
Their conversations evolved to include Baltimore-based Morgan State University (MSU) faculty members as well as master's level students enrolled in MSU's Project Management program. Dr. Ali Emdad, department chair, agreed to participate in the partnership, which entails graduate students leading project management training. The partnership launched in October 2013 to support BBBS participants (Littles) and their mentors (Bigs).
This partnership focuses on high school students who are currently served by BBBS. “These are all inner-city kids. Some may be living in foster homes. Some of their parents are incarcerated. They have no adult or parental mentorship, and that's where BBBS steps in,” says Perlstein “We want to reach into the inner city and provide a totally different perspective of what life's all about,” says John Kos, PMP, president-elect of the PMI Baltimore Chapter.
To do that, however, Perlstein and Kos knew they needed trainers to whom the kids could relate. That's where MSU entered the partnership. “We'll have two of their students teach the course so they can tie in their experiences of growing up in the inner city and relate that to some of what these kids are going through now,” says Perlstein.
The pilot workshop was held using a curriculum based on PMIEF’s Project Management Skills for LifeSM and Careers in Project Management educational resources. PMIEF donated several dozen copies of PM Skills for LifeSMto BBBS for their use with this program.
Terry Hickey, CEO for BBBS of the Greater Chesapeake, believes strongly in the impact of workplace mentoring and sees the value in this partnership. “Getting the Big and the Little involved means the kids will have mentors who are able to talk to them about how important a project management background can be to their careers,” says Hickey.
The skills these young people will acquire will better prepare them to transition from school to work. Project management jobs and industries are some of the fastest-growing career fields, especially in a city like Baltimore, which has been recognized for its high concentration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs.
It's a long-term vision that stands to have lasting results in the Baltimore area not only for the PMI chapter, but also for volunteer mentors, kids in the community, and BBBS.
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