What is community relations and what is it like working in the community relations field? Patrick Flynn of Riverset Credit Union tells us a bit about his career to help us learn more.
Patrick Flynn & Lisa Florian
RA: Please tell us a bit about yourself.
PF: I am a born and raised in Western Pennsylvanian. I graduated from Pennsylvania State University, The Behrend College in Erie, PA in 2000, with a Bachelors Degree in Marketing with a Minor in Management. I moved back to the Pittsburgh area after college to pursue my career opportunities. I currently serve on the Advisory Committee for the Regional Internship Center and work as a District Director for Delta Sigma Pi, Professional Business Fraternity, at the University of Pittsburgh, where I serve as a mentor to Business students. In my personal time, I’m a season ticket holder for the Pittsburgh Penguins and avid traveler and disc golfer.
RA: How did you come to Riverset?
PF: I’ve currently been working at Riverset for three years. I was unhappy with the career path presented by my former employer so I began a job search and I found an ad for this job with Riverset on the Post Gazette/Monster job search engine. I thought it was a natural fit for me as I’ve been a member of a credit union since my parents opened my first ever savings account. I love the idea and the mission of credit unions and just went for it. Best decision I’ve ever made.
RA: What is it like to work at Riverset?
PF: It is a wonderful working environment at Riverset. Being that credit unions are “not-for-profit financial cooperatives”, it is a smaller workforce (only 32 employees). Coming from a Fortune 500 and another large corporate organization, it is very refreshing. I have an understanding boss who allows me to be me and do what needs to be done to make my position successful. The best part is that it is always stressed that we do what is in the best interest of the member or potential member. I love that aspect.
RA: What is community relations to Riverset?
PF: As we transitioned to a community chartered financial institution in 2009, we recognized that it was now more important than ever to reach out and help local businesses, organizations and individuals in the community. That’s when the Community Relations part of my title was created. I am tasked to research and schedule monthly community service events for our employees. I try to find a nice mix of organizations to work with to make sure that we keep employees engaged. I also will find opportunities, if available, on our end for us to make charitable or financial donations. We have sponsored events for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Habitat for Humanity and made charitable donations to Toys for Tots, Family House and Children’s Hospital.
RA: What kinds of things do you do within a typical week?
PF: A lot of my time may be spent on visits to our “partner” companies to meet with their employees or researching new possible partner groups. It is also spent looking over websites, reading local papers and searching out new opportunities for volunteering and community outreach.
RA: What other departments do you work with at Riverset?
PF: My job spans two different areas: Business Development and Community Relations. It is my job to go out and find businesses and organizations that would like to partner with Riverset and then schedule times where I can meet with their employees to educate them on our products and services. It’s a wonderful balance of “business-to-business” and “end consumer” sales.
RA: What is a cool project you are working on currently?
PF: One of my favorite community relations projects, which is ongoing, is Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh, a program of Mercy Behavioral Health. Dancing Classrooms is a program placed into local elementary schools to help build social awareness, confidence and self-esteem in children through the practice of social dance. The movies “Mad Hot Ballroom” and “Take the Lead” were based on this program. The children are taught ballroom dancing during their gym classes for 10 weeks. At the end, 6 couples are chosen to represent their school at a “Colors of the Rainbow Semi-Final” competition. Those that are chosen are not just based on their dancing abilities but on their discipline and respect and hard work in school. Currently, I am working on an upcoming fundraiser for the program to help keep the program moving forward in the upcoming years. I am receiving the same dance lessons as the children did and will be dancing with my co-worker and 5 other couples in front of a lot of people to help raise funds.
RA: What else should people know about your job?
PF: Well, that my job requires a lot of networking and the ability to be professional and know how to talk to anyone. I have conversations with everyone from front-line staff to organization leaders and CEOs. You have to know how to be able to work with everyone to develop community relations. One of the most important things that anyone should know as they move forward in their education or career path is how to network. This is a key aspect to me finding companies to work with both in the business and outreach levels.
RA: What great things do you have on the schedule at Riverset that we should be on the look out for?
PF: I am constantly tweaking and working on our outreach programs. Upcoming, we will be volunteering with such wonderful organizations as The Bradley Center, Family House, Emmaus Community of Pittsburgh and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. We are constantly updating our website with upcoming and completed events. If you know of a great organization that you feel could use some help on the volunteer level, don’t hesitate to let me know. I will always research any suggestion to see if it is a viable fit for our employees.
Thanks Patrick for giving us a glimpse into a career path in Community Relations! Don’t forget, The Regional Internship Center has partnered with Riverset on many occasions! If you have a profile with the RIC, you are eligible for membership to Riverset. Contact Patrick at email@example.com