“ONE THING I LEARNED MOST ABOUT SERVING OTHERS IS THE IMPORTANCE OF MEETING THEM WHERE THEY’RE AT.

 

Cristina Sousa 

THe community builders inc. 

Title: Community Life Operations Manager for Senior Sites

Age: 30

College: Keene State

Major: Psychology and Chemical Dependency

First Job: Hebrew SeniorLife

Current Salary: $60,000-$75,000

 

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After graduating from the Boston College School of Social Work, Cristina began her career with Hebrew SeniorLife. In this role, Cristina gained experience in both direct service and administrative support of elderly residents. At The Community Builders Inc, she applies this experience to supporting strong communities where people of all incomes can achieve their full potential.


What was a turning point in your career? 

I was at my previous job at Hebrew SeniorLife for six years. During that time I had a mix of clinical social work and macro social work. Towards the end point of being there, I realized although I loved dealing with the residents one-on-one, I liked doing the macro piece more because I felt like I could help more than one person at once. 

 What experience in college helped you get to where you are today?

I interned at two different places. I would say one thing I learned most about serving others is the importance of meeting them where they're at. They may make decisions that you don't necessarily agree with but that you need to support.

What’s the best advice you ever got from a work mentor? 

One of my previous directors was always very supportive in making sure that the residents were heard and involved in the community. She was a mentor to me, and something that I always take with me is that you have to include all stakeholders in making decisions. It’s important for them to know exactly why certain things are happening so that they can understand it and ask questions.

What advice would you give to a college student looking to build a career as a problem solver?

I would say that although you're in this as a problem solver, its really important if you're helping someone to let them try to solve the problem with your support and not completely solve it for them. You want them to learn how to solve problems and cope. Supporting people in their decision-making is important. A lot of people in this field need the help but don't necessarily want to be “saved”. So it’s really supporting them and giving them the resources to make their decisions. 

What’s a potential next step in your career? 

Right now, this position is still relatively new and I think that I have a lot to learn because of that. In five years I would love to have direct reports versus supporting. I would also love to continue working with seniors but also work with other leaders help to create different innovative programs in relation to aging.