BOSTON (CBS) – Twice a month, the bright, inviting office space at Seaport ad agency, Allen & Gerritsen gets an extra shot of energy thanks to a dozen girls from Charlestown.
They are students at Harvard/Kent Elementary who are part of Big Sister Boston’s workplace mentoring program.
The bus ride isn’t far, but the visit represents a whole new world for girls who may not have ever been to the Seaport before the program started.
It is also their first experience with anyone in an ad agency.
And that sense of discovery is precisely what Big Sister Boston is hoping to encourage in this office and others.
Allen & Gerritsen and Fidelity are the first two businesses in Boston to partner with Big Sister Boston on workplace mentoring.
But it could represent the future of youth mentoring. Employees—who want to become Big Sisters but may not have the time outside work—experience the power of mentoring within their workday.
Their employer provides lunch and a space to talk and play games based around teamwork.
Big Sister Boston helps arrange the transportation and provides the schedule for the visit—right down to the team-building activity.
“When they (the girls) come through those doors, a tough day really goes out the window,” says A/G Executive Assistant Jordana Connor.
Connor says there’s always something fun and new when the girls (or “Littles” as they’re known) visit the office. The girls describe their Big Sisters as “awesome,” and say the food is “way better than school lunch.”
The Littles talk about school and family. The Bigs listen and share stories from their own lives. The friendships build over time. “Do you find that it helps you even when you’re not here?” Lisa Hughes asked one 11 year-old. Without hesitation, she answered, “Yes.”
As much as the girls appreciate learning from their professional role models—and learning about advertising—Allen & Gerritsen CEO and Big Sister Boston board member, Andrew Graff says it is also valuable for the company. “It reinforces our commitment to the community,” Graff said. “It reinforces our commitment to the next generation of talent. It reinforces that creativity can come from anywhere and anyone.”
Graff says for very little money, his staff benefits from a sense of camaraderie, greater confidence in their ability to make a difference, and the energy that comes with having the Littles in the office. The only downside comes when it’s time for the girls to leave. Their time together, they say, is never long enough.
For more interest on Big Sister Boston’s workplace mentoring program, go to bigsister.org