Curan Cottman Alumni Highlight

March 2016

Tell me a little about yourself.

My name is Curan Cottman, on government paper.  My friends call me Ronnie. I’m 24 years old.  I live in West Philly. I currently work at BikeShare as a Customer Service Representative.  In my spare time I play contact sports and punk music.  My band is named after me.  I’m quiet and honest.  I have a good sense of humor.  I’m detail oriented, it’s kind of a habit. I guess it helps with my job.  I’ve been told I’m witty. I’m not scared to be myself.

When were you in PowerCorpsPHL?

I was in Cohort 2 on Mabari Byrd’s crew.  In Cohort 3 I was Assistant Crew Leader (ACL) for AJ Adams.  I would have loved to be an ACL in the summer haha. I wore thermals on top of thermals on top of thermals.  I applied for ACL because I wanted to challenge myself.  I love challenges.  I saw a lot of ACLs that didn’t have certain qualities that I had.  I was more hungrier back then.  I had a crappy phone; I was in a position where I wanted to change my circumstance. A lot of things financially were holding me back.  I wanted to change my situation. I thought if I do this right, maybe it’ll be an opportunity to get another job. Strive to be a better me.  Before I applied to PowerCorpsPHL, I made a few wrong choices.  Taking up PowerCorpsPHL was something constructive for me to do, something other than getting in trouble with the law.  When I look back at my time with PowerCorpsPHL, it was an experience that pushed me out of my comfort zone.  

What are you up to now?

I work full-time at Indego BikeShare, now under Bicycle Transit Systems, as a Customer Service Representative.  I answer phones and respond to customers’ issues.  I didn’t wake up one morning thinking “I’m gonna do customer service!”  I have a passion for bikes.  I remember when they were first starting a bike share in Philly.  When I first heard of it I didn’t understand it.  Then I thought it was cool!  The first position I found was Mechanic.  I can fix my bike–to a certain extent.  I went for the interview and I connected with the people.  I’m relaxed.  It was my hunger, my ambition that they saw.  During the interview, my now supervisor Ian asked me to tell him something interesting about myself; so I told him I’m into music, I like to ride bikes, and I box on my spare time.  That led to a question, and we kept going back in forth. It opened a door to a whole different side of the interview.  After, I ended up giving Ian Smith my resume for the customer service position.  It was the weirdest job interview I’ve ever had.  But it’s truly a positive work experience. How many people can say that? That’s why I’ve stayed.  I think I’m at a crossroad at my job though. It’s either time to move higher up or do something else.  I’m kinda ready to do something else. I don’t want to do this forever. I feel like I can do a lot more.  If I learned anything from PowerCorps it’s to take advantage of opportunity.  Now I’m uncomfortable with settling for less.  I work my tail off; I never really took a day off work. I took one day off in PowerCorpsPHL…in the second cohort.  At my current job I had so many vacation days built up, my boss told me to take time off.

What about in your free time?

I play with my band on the weekends, we have band practice and shows like once a month. We have a show on April 6th at Lava Space in West Philly!  Also, I’m into amateur boxing. I like doing stuff that’s fun, not boring.  I like to be active.

What motivates you?

I want more. Not necessarily materialistic things, I just want to put myself in a better position.  If it takes getting another job to pay for school, it’ll be worth it in the long run.  My little sister is an inspiration; she has two kids, works full-time as a supervisor, and goes to school.  I want to put myself in a more comfortable position.  It doesn’t take much to satisfy me, but I don’t want to settle in life.  I’m interested in the little things like providing for myself and becoming more independent.  The more power moves I make in life, whether they’re small or major, the closer I am to being comfortable.  It’s not about money, it’s about doing what makes you happy.

How did your time with PowerCorpsPHL impact you?

I felt like if I could make it through PowerCorpsPHL on the professional level, I’ll be able to make it in the working world.  And I made it through, I didn’t get kicked out!  Something that made me want to go harder was when I would hear someone talking behind my back. Negativity, I had to remind myself, that’s not what I came here for.  There’s a bigger picture with PowerCorps, it’s about more than just paying your rent.

PowerCorpsPHL made me acknowledge two traits that prevent you from succeeding in life: fear and laziness.  If you have fear you have the habit of second guessing yourself. In interviews I learned how to ignore that voice in my head that’s second guessing myself.  I learned there’s nothing wrong with being critical as long as you can fix what needs to be fixed. It’s like a flashlight on what you’re doing wrong.  I learned to be honest and professional.  When I say honest, I mean not lying or overcompensating, just being myself.  I learned to step up my work ethic and my work etiquette.  As I made those adjustments, I became a lot more successful.

Now that you’re an alumni, what sort of involvement would you like to have with PowerCorpsPHL?

Well, everyone in PowerCorpsPHL is an adult, so not a big brother. But I want to be a living example. I always come to alumni events. I want to share my experience and things I’ve done to make me successful.  I can’t tell you what to do, but I can share what I’ve done. I want to speak on panels and talk with members about the next step in their life.  

I’d like advice for college from PowerCorpsPHL.

What do you miss about PowerCorpsPHL? What don’t you miss?

I miss the support.  Indego BikeShare is my first job.  It didn’t hit me until the first day that there isn’t the same support network.

I don’t miss the negative energy–but that’s just the real world. I don’t miss the people who didn’t take it as serious as I did.

What do you hope to do in the future?

I want more.  I’m going to just keep climbing the ladder.   I want to go to school for Environmental Science.  I want to start a landscaping business but I want to learn the science behind it first.  I want to live comfortably; but there are levels to that.  I need to get a lot stronger at patience, it’s vital to life. I’m a get up and go type of person.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Shout-out to AJ Adams for genuinely wanting me to succeed. We’re weren’t always Starsky and Hutch as Crew Leader and ACL.  He made appreciate him; you’re not always going to have a mentor as a boss.  He pushed me to be the best I can.   

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