Crystal Moore knows her professional strengths and has used them to build a fulfilling career straddling both the private and public sector. After spending several years working for Accenture and gaining skills in corporate finance and analytics, Crystal considered pursuing another passion – education. In 2010, she applied to and won a spot in the prestigious ProInspire Fellowship Program. ProInspire provides the opportunity for outstanding business professionals to spend one year working in a strategic or analytical role at a nonprofit or public sector organization in Washington, D.C. The program also offers Fellows a coach, monthly training workshops, and a professional network to support career growth. As a ProInspire Fellow, Crystal worked for DC Public Schools, and is now completing her MBA. After graduation she plans to work for the Boston-based Parthenon Group, which provides strategy advising to the education sector. Crystal has definitely found her niche. We spoke with her to learn more about her interesting career path.
1. What inspired you to apply to the ProInspire Fellowship?
My desire to apply for the ProInspire Fellowship Program began through my involvement with College Summit as a College Counselor, and through Accenture’s Corporate Citizenship Program with KIPP Charter School in DC. I saw how the academic achievement gap manifested itself in the lives of so many of our country’s minority students living in low income areas: kids entering the 5th grade at a 2nd grade reading level, or matriculating to the 8th grade without a solid grasp of multiplication tables. These experiences made me acutely aware that the achievement gap is not a reflection of student capabilities, but of an education system that’s failing them.
After several years at Accenture, I felt that I had developed my skills in a way that would allow me to effectively contribute to the education sector, and I wanted to align these skills with my passion for social responsibility and improving and enhancing educational opportunities. Through the ProInspire Fellowship, I saw a chance to apply my experience in corporate America to the nonprofit world and align my skills with a mission that makes a difference in the world and harnesses the power of my business experience to do good.
2. What did you focus on in your application cover letter?
In my cover letter, I focused on 1) demonstrating a passion for social sector, 2) articulating how the Fellowship benefited and supported my career goals, 3) and conveying how my previous experience could be impactful in the social sector.
- Demonstrate a passion for social sector – On both my resume and cover letter, I highlighted my previous involvement in the social sector, including my volunteer and pro bono consulting experience. I wanted to convey that I was not only passionate about social change and the education sector, but that I had taken steps toward impacting the sector through volunteer, leadership, and community service activities.
- Articulate how the ProInspire Fellowship aligns with your career goals and is the right opportunity for you – Another key component to my cover letter was articulating the professional reasons for applying to the ProInspire Fellowship Program. In this section, I focused on both explaining what I could gain from the fellowship experience, but also what I could contribute to the fellowship community.
- Strike a healthy balance between passion and business skills – While demonstrating a strong passion for the education sector, I also tried to covey that through my prior professional experience I had developed a strong “tool-kit” of skills that could be impactful to the social sector. I focused on conveying the specific skills that I felt I could bring to the fellowship. Additionally, I tailored the language and relevance of my skills to the specifics of the fellowship requirements (strong analytical, problem solving, and project management skills).
3. What did you gain from your fellowship experience?
Working in the Office of Secondary School Transformation at DC Public Schools, I helped to drive the implementation of the school district’s reform strategy by improving the districts effectiveness through a rigorous use of data. Through my work as a ProInspire Fellow, I further strengthened my core belief that all students, regardless of their social-economic background should have access to a quality education system.
More broadly, in addition to having a meaningful and high-impact fellowship experience, the professional development program truly helped accelerate my transition into the social sector. Through workshops, coaching and leadership development, I was able to build the competencies that are most valuable to the social sector.
As a result of my Fellowship experience, I was also able to expand my own professional connections within the social sector. Most importantly, though, I have become connected to a group of people who are just as passionate about social change as I am.
Essentially, the ProInspire Fellowship Program allowed me to serve on the front lines of transforming an educational system. I continue to be excited about the education reform initiatives taking place in the U.S., and hope to be able to contribute in my small way to this important movement in the next phase of my career following business school.
Crystal Moore is completing a MBA in Strategy and Social Entrepreneurship at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. At Duke she is Co-President of the Black and Latino MBA Organization and is a COLE Leadership Fellow. Crystal earned her B.S. in Business Administration and Finance from Xavier University of Louisiana.
© Victoria Johnson 2012, all rights reserved.