Matt Yarvi manages not one, but two teams as an Impact Manager (IM).* He wears many hats as a source of connection between his teams and the school’s administrators. Above everything else, Matt says the largest part of his role is his interactions with his teams of City Year AmeriCorps members. Read the interview with Matt below to learn more about what it takes to be an Impact Manager and take a look at our open positions to see which role is right for you.
Can you tell me a little about what an IM does?
Matt Yarvi (MY): As an Impact Manager I am responsible for a variety of things, each of which is very important to the success of City Year. Building a relationship with my school administration, teachers, support staff and other organizations on campus are a huge piece of what I focus on each day. Collaboration with these individuals makes it easier for to support my team and in turn it provides more opportunities for my teams to be connected to their students. It also helps with all the data collection and reporting that an Impact Manager does throughout the year.
The biggest piece of the Impact Manager role, from my perspective, is the day-to-day interaction with my teams of AmeriCorps members. I make this my top priority each day to ensure they feel supported and have the tools they need to provide excellent service to the students in their classrooms. Through observations, coaching, “Life After City Year” (LACY) talks and intentionality about spending time hearing how they’re doing, I find out how I can support them and make sure they get the most out of their year of service. If they’re coming to service each day and loving what they do, then I feel like I’m doing my job well.
How would students in your school describe your work?
MY: Even though I work at an elementary school and a high school*, the students still refer to me the same way– “Boss” or “Manager,” which makes me laugh. They often think that my role is only to tell their City Year members what to do, but they soon learn that I’m there to support their City Year members, not to boss them around. I try to always make sure they see me as one more City Year in a red jacket that is willing to help them at any time.
What makes City Year a unique organization to work for?
MY: The culture and the model that we follow. City Year creates a culture that made me feel appreciated and welcomed from the moment I started working here. City Year makes it comfortable for everyone to work here and they always find ways to show support from the top down. Compared to other organizations I have worked for, I get such a sense of support and appreciation from leadership.
Also, the WHOLE SCHOOL, WHOLE CHILD model that we use makes City Year unique because we’re not just bringing a team of AmeriCorps members into the classroom, we’re creating a presence on campus for the whole school. Day in and day out, our teams are pushing students to be better in their attendance, their behavior and their course performance, along with welcoming them onto the campus and creating initiatives that the school might otherwise not be able to pursue.
What in your work brings you joy?
MY: My teams of AmeriCorps members bring me the most joy, especially when I see them put a smile on a student’s face. Each day I come to work knowing that I get to work with a group of individuals that chose to dedicate a year of their life to make better happen, and that is such a great feeling. I came into this job knowing I wanted to make a difference in the lives of students, and it has been tremendously rewarding seeing my teams of AmeriCorps members in action with their students. They inspire me every day.
How do you help your team grow and develop? What do you enjoy about managing a team?
MY: Throughout the course of the year, I help my teams grow and develop in several ways. One is by offering professional development sessions to them based on their needs and wants, whether that means that I deliver the material myself, or I connect them to someone else with more expertise than myself. I’m always happy to do what I can to help them with their professional growth. Some of my favorite topics that I have done in sessions with my teams are communication, relationship development and customer service. I’ve also enjoyed being able to lead them through resume building and public speaking sessions as well.
I also try to relate their struggles or opportunities for growth to the 12 years of experience I have working in the youth development field. Often, there are times when I am able to help coach them through a situation that I have experienced, whether in an educational setting or from working one-on-one with a student. That helps to encourage them and let them know I’m there to offer support.
Lastly, but most importantly, a lot of my help comes from my one-on-one time with them each month. During these times, I always ask them what they need from me and what they need for themselves. Based off of the information that they give and what I observe in their work with students, I will put their feedback into action and try my best to provide them what they are in need of. If I am unable to provide that need myself, I will find someone that can.
How have you grown in this role?
MY: My time as an Impact Manager has taught me that it really does take a village to raise a child. Serving our students in our school, I’ve learned how important it is to work together as a team and how much we depend on each other to reach the goal. I’ve also grown by opening myself up to feedback and being vulnerable with my teams. In previous jobs I would have expected those that I manage to do things because I was the boss and the rules were the rules. At City Year, I’ve realized the importance of collaboration and as I always tell my teams, “Just because it’s always been done this way, it doesn’t mean we should do it that way too, or that it’s best for us.” I encourage my teams to be creative and think outside the box.
What has been your biggest surprise about the Impact Manager role?
MY: The biggest surprise for me about the Impact Manager role has been that although we all work hard and sometimes the days can be long, I feel happiness when I come to work each day.” It’s something that I haven’t felt in many years and when I tell my former colleagues about it, they ask how they can get a job here, too.
What advice would you give to a new IM? OR What should someone applying to be an IM know?
MY: Know that it is important to keep a mindset of others before self in this role. If you’re coming into this job asking what it can do for you and not what can you do for City Year, you may have a tough time. Make relationships a top priority and communication an even higher one. Keep your team first and know that if you show them that you care about them, there’s a better chance that they will perform at a higher level and have greater impact.
*Most Impact Managers support one team serving in one school. Interested in applying for an Impact Manager position at City Year? Click here.