Lincoln Storytellers: Jen Cielma

Jen Cielma photo

Recently, we asked members of our Lincoln family to share their stories. This week, we’re featuring Jen Cielma, our Business Manager at Lodge at Southpoint, on what being a part of LPC means to her.

What is my Lincoln Story?

I started with Lincoln in 2011 as a Leasing and Marketing Professional.  While I did have a couple of years of experience with a different company behind me, Lincoln felt different very early on.  I could see a difference in our customer service and our commitment to excellence.  I felt more of a human connection here.

One day, a lady came into the office looking for an apartment.  I’ve always been someone that strangers feel comfortable opening up to but this particular day was significant.  This woman revealed to me that she was leaving an abusive husband after several years together.  She confided in me that she was afraid and unsure of herself because she hadn’t been on her own in so long.  We talked of her needs and I did all I could to comfort her and help her envision the beginning of her new journey in our neighborhood.  She decided to apply and after completing the paperwork, left the office.  I screened her application and when I called to tell her she had been approved, she began to cry.  She showed up in the office about 15 minutes later, still crying, and asked if she could hug me.  I hugged her, of course, and welcomed her to the beginning of her new life.  And while there have been a lot of great moments like that since, I will always remember her kind heart, beautiful smile, and her renewed sense of hope.  I felt like I helped make a difference in her life.  And that is just the beginning of my Lincoln Story.

After being promoted to a Resident (Assistant) Manager, my story evolved.  I lived on site and I remember one morning leaving for work and noticing that the window of the van belonging to my neighbor had been broken the night before.  She was an elderly woman who lived alone.  I didn’t want her to be upset if she were to walk out and find her car like that.  I texted my boss and said I’d be a little late because I had to take care of something.  I knocked on the resident’s door and let her know what had happened.  She started to get upset and I assured her it would all be fine.  I gently suggested she call the police to file a report and reach out to her insurance company.  Later that afternoon, the woman called the office and asked for me.  When I got on the phone her voice was calm and she said “Jen, I just wanted to thank you for coming to my door this morning.  I would’ve been so freaked out if I’d have walked out and found my car broken into.  You took the panic out the situation.  I called my grandson and he helped me work out the details with the cops and the insurance.  But it really meant so much that you took the time to come talk to me and prepare me.  Thank you so much.”  And again, I felt like I made a difference. 

While working as a Resident Manager, I had the opportunity and honor to join the team of Certified Trainers in our region.  This was and continues to be one of the greatest joys in my Lincoln story.  I love introducing new folks to our company during Lincoln to the Core.  I love teaching our new Leasing rockstars T6.  I love being the “Yardi Expert” in the Mid-Atlantic.  My most personally satisfying moments used to be interactions with guests, applicants, and residents.  Now, as my story evolves, they are more often with fellow Lincoln family members. 

After being promoted to a Business Manager, I wanted to bring some personal flare into my management style.  I made Lincoln a bigger part of what we do on site.  Taking a brilliant idea from my friend and mentor, Marianne Sauls, I bought a life-sized cardboard cutout of Abe and made him part of our community.  He became part of our marketing initiatives.  He became a symbol of what connected us.  My Copper Spring team was honored to win the Lincoln Charities – Lincoln Family Video Contest.  This made me very proud.  We really were a family and having that video and accomplishment to commemorate our time together means a lot to me.  But, as many great things do, my time at Copper Spring came to an end when the property sold in 2017.  I moved back to North Carolina and assumed a Business Manager position here. 

As my tenure and experience with Lincoln grew, so did my ability to help others in the company.  I am still a Business Manager but I think my true Lincoln Story is more about being “The Helper.”  I feel that now my role is much more than a Business Manager.  I’m the person in our area that other LPC folks call when they have a question about a policy.  I’m the one they call when they have an impossible Yardi question that they can’t figure out.  I’m the one newer Business Managers call for advice on difficult situations.  I’m The Helper.  And I truly love being The Helper.  There’s something very rewarding about helping a struggling Resident Manager work through balancing a ledger that has snowballed into a giant mess.  There’s something very rewarding about seeing a newer Business Manager have an “Aha!” moment when going over financials or something in the budget.  Helping our teams grow their talents and become more capable in their own positions has become my favorite part of my Lincoln Story.

The only problem with my Lincoln Story is that it is unfinished.  It is my hope that my Lincoln Story has many chapters to come.  I’d love to see my talent and passion for training our teams develop into a regional/national role.  I hope to continue to grow my career with our Learning and Talent Development department and continue to write my Lincoln Story. 

But for now, if you want the TL:DR version – my Lincoln Story is simply “I love what I do and I love this company because what I do makes a difference.  And that means everything.”

Interested in learning about career opportunities with Lincoln? Contact us today to speak to one of our friendly representatives.

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