Jennifer Holiday serves as a senior vice president, strategy and initiatives manager in Pennington, NJ, with Bank of America’s Global Wealth and Investment Management division. She frequently volunteers with a number of local nonprofits, including as a mentor in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters Bucks County and Junior Achievement New Jersey. Skills development and mentorship are part of the bank’s focus on workforce development as a pathway to economic mobility. This includes the bank’s recent commitment to hire 10,000 individuals from low- and moderate-income communities over the next five years as part of its Pathways program.
Q: What type of impact do you think mentorship has on the individual and the community?
A: I believe that mentoring people, especially young people, has an impact that extends to the community at large. When you help people unlock the talent within themselves, it really has a ripple effect. Whether it’s teaching basic financial literacy, steering youth who’ve made a poor choice back on the right path, or coaching those early in their career, the more we can help them become productive members of society, the better our communities become. I’m proud to work at Bank of America, which supports employees’ volunteer efforts, because we can give our time and expertise to mentor youth and young adults as a way to contribute to the economic mobility of individuals and families in our communities.
Q: How do you approach mentorship?
A: Mentorship can be very formal and structured, as is the case with the work I do in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters, or more informal like the work I do at Bank of America. As part of a Big Brothers Big Sisters program, I helped launch the Youth Aid Panel in my community, where we partner with our local police departments on a youth diversion program for juveniles who are first-time offenders. Rather than having first-time offending youth go directly into the juvenile court system, we bring them before a panel of community members to hear their case and determine appropriate intervention. We mentor the individuals to help keep them out of the court system and get them back on track with school, activities and family life. Being able to give someone a second chance and get them back on track to pursue the future they want is extremely rewarding. In my role at Bank of America, I also have the opportunity to mentor some of our interns and analysts. I enjoy being able to share what I’ve learned and experienced in my career to help those starting out navigate the corporate world and prepare for their futures. I feel fortunate for the opportunity Bank of America provides for me to be a mentor both at work and in my community. I encourage others to seek out and embrace the opportunity to mentor and make a difference in someone’s life.
Q: As you reflect on your own mentors early in your career, what is one of the best pieces of guidance you were given and how can it apply to young adults today?
A: One of the things I learned early in my career and that I always try to convey to those I mentor is the importance of building relationships. Building relationships takes work, but it’s so worthwhile. Having a strong network opens opportunities and provides support for young people to develop, both personally and professionally. If I could give someone only one piece of advice, it would be to get involved. You can’t sit back and wait for opportunities to come to you, go out and learn, explore and engage. You will make connections along the way; they will help you and you will help them.