Alec Douglas, ’15, moved to the Boston area after graduation to become an associate at Silicon Valley Bank.
“Overall, just the attitude of staying late and coming in early really pays off,” Douglas said. "And that's something I learned at Richmond that I'm able to apply now."
But when he started volunteering outside of work, he didn’t realize how much he still had to learn.
“A group of colleagues from SVB go to a high school in an under resourced area and help students build a business of their choosing,” Douglas said. “We act as a soundboard and assist in providing resources for them.”
Douglas and other members of his associate program began working with the students in January 2017. It’s part of the BUILD Mentorship Program, where companies partner with schools in underprivileged areas and volunteer their time to the students. It gives students something to do after school, and gets them excited about entrepreneurship.
The business they’re currently working on? An organic deodorant company.
“When we first met them, they already had this idea - their classmates smelled bad after coming out of gym - so they wanted to make their school smell better,” Douglas said, laughing. “It started out as a joke, but now they have a deodorant that they created from scratch.”
He, and other volunteers, meet regularly with the students to help them plan their business.
“They didn’t think it was that realistic at first to make a product or start a business,” Douglas said. “But over time they realized that this could be real, they could make money! It’s exciting.”
The students have already created the product, and put together an investor presentation. They plan to share their ideas with a panel of potential investors at MIT for a showcase in March.
“Prior to Richmond, I started a business based on a spitball idea that my friend and I got together and built. And now, I can see the same thought process in these kids,” Douglas said.
But that’s not the only volunteering program he has joined. He is also on the Young Professionals Committee of the charity Crossroads for Kids.
“In the past year we have worked with freshmen, sophomores, and juniors in high school. They came in to SVB where we held mock interviews to help them apply for college or a job down the road,” Douglas said.
It’s important to him to spend time with the students, and tell them about his work, so they have someone to look up to.
Dr. Richard Coughlan taught Douglas as a student, and wasn’t surprised to learn about the time he’s donating to students outside of work.
“Like so many of our Robins School graduates, Alec continues to find ways to apply the lessons he learned on campus in service to others,” Dr. Coughlan said. “The young entrepreneurs he is now mentoring will certainly benefit from his advice.”
Douglas says he learned a lot from Dr. Coughlan about how to conduct himself professionally, as well as the importance of giving back to his community.
"It's great developing a relationship with the kids," Douglas said. "At first they can be stand-offish, because they don't have anyone in their life that they can look up to as a mentor. But now, with this project, we all get along really well, and it's really fun."