Master coach, skilled mentor, and committed student, Joe Wray embodies the skills and values that Project Coach cultivates in youth. His background with PC stretches far and wide - in fact all the way to France!
PC: What are you doing now?
Joe: Right now I’m a student at Isenberg School of Management where I’m studying accounting as a full time transfer student. I’ll graduate from UMass in May 2020. This summer, I’ll be working at Ernst and Young (EY), one of the top accounting firms in the world. EY has already offered me an internship for the summer of 2019 in their Boston office in their assurance/financial services sector. I’ll be interning with them this summer and after that I’ll return to Amherst to finish off my senior year. Then I’ll be back at EY in the fall of 2020 to start full time with their firm.
PC: Tell us a highlight memory from your time with Project Coach.
Joe: That is a hard one. I would have to say a huge moment for me was getting incredibly positive feedback from parents when I was running the Saturday program (North End United) last year. The parents were so impressed with how well the program was running. It was so beneficial to families to have something to do together on the weekend. The program became more than just a basketball program. It became a family and community event too.
Another thing that stands out is the time that I represented Project Coach by going over to France and being a part of a group of highly skilled, bright, talented coaches. As a senior in high school, to be able to go to France and and be able to share some of our learnings with another culture was a huge moment that I think back on and truly am grateful for.
There’s one more that’s huge, and that’s the time that Sam asked me to speak on behalf of the program to 300 plus business professionals at the Springfield Chamber of Commerce. They had the greatest response that I think anybody could ask for. The crowd was so impressed by what the program was doing and what the program had helped me accomplish. It was a huge moment, a defining moment about who I am, to have the opportunity to be able to speak in front of a highly accomplished group of people like that.
PC: How did Project Coach impact who you are now, and what you're doing in your life?
Joe: PC has influenced me by giving me a story that I am able to share with everyone I meet about an amazing program that changed my life. PC was actually a huge thing that I talked about when I was interviewing at several public accounting firms recently. You wouldn’t think that someone coming from a sports and youth development program would talk about that experience in an accounting interview, but to me it felt important.
PC gave me the tools and resources I use in my everyday life and helped get me to where I am today. [PC Co-Founder] Don Siegel introduced me to a PC Advisory Board member, John Gabranski, who helped me make the decision to go into the career of public accounting. John is an accountant himself, and he opened me up to the possibility of accounting becoming my profession. This is what PC is all about - the mentorship I accessed through the program put me on my current career path.
PC: Team is a big part of life in Project Coach. Who’s on your team in your current life & work?
Joe: Team is such a huge part of my life, and I didn’t even notice this until I was deciding between EY and another firm. A big reason I chose EY is that when I was initially meeting with professionals at the firms, EY said everything is about team, that it’s not about the individual. Coming from a sports background where everything is also about team, the fact that EY has a culture of teamwork was a big part of my decision to work with them. That culture felt similar to what I am familiar and comfortable with, being able to collaborate and take feedback from others. Today, a huge part of my team is still those members of PC - Sam, Don, Jo, John Gabranski. I still hold them very close to me and I reach out them when I have decisions to make. I have also developed a big network outside of PC, including community professionals that I stay in contact with continuously, and the great network of professors and fellow classmates I have met at UMass that I have supported and who also support me. And last but not least my family and closest friends will always be a part of my team.
PC: What big idea, project, adventure has your attention? What’s your next play?
Joe: My next play is moving into my professional career and building that career in public accounting, as well as finding out a way to serve youth in the inner city. I want to be able to connect resources in my firm back to the community, and to help teens and kids from under-resourced communities understand their potential. I want to continue that work that I started with in Project Coach as I continue my professional career. I want to continue to be connected to youth and giving back.