As the 2017 Opportunity NOW Summer Intern Program closes, the team at Alignment Nashville bid a fond farewell to our first Opportunity NOW Intern, Alice. Alice has proven to be an extraordinarily capable and ambitious young lady and we appreciate all her help. Check out Alice’s reflection on her Alignment Nashville experience:
A few months ago, I was trying to figure out a summer job. I assumed I’d scoop ice cream, serve food: something in the service industry. If I was lucky, I’d find a job as a camp counselor for kids young enough to believe that I’m their parent’s age. On a whim, I created an account on the Opportunity Now website that they had told us about in school. This internship wasn’t even posted for my age group; I was left applying for administrative jobs where I could take phone calls all day.
I basically forgot about the four or five jobs I applied to on the site in the coming weeks as I searched elsewhere. Then, one day after school, Erin Conley called me and told me that there might be a few more jobs that I would be interested in. She rattled off a list, and I let her finish despite the fact that, after hearing the very first one, I knew which internship I would be requesting.
As she described it, I would be writing pieces for their website and helping with social media – this sounded fun, but I was more excited that I would be given the opportunity to do work involved with public education. The twinge of guilt that I have always felt about going to private school had recently been growing into a full on complex, and I was excited to do anything I could to give a little back.
That job description encompassed a small part of my responsibilities at Alignment, but my biggest project wouldn’t be revealed until I got to the office: the Social Emotional Learning Conference. They, along with MNPS, were in the throes of planning, and in my first week Justin already had me creating the conference schedule and emailing the presenters with their timeslots.
This first week set the tone for my whole internship. Justin trusted me (perhaps more than he should have) to do any and all projects assigned to me correctly, so that he could do his own work instead of spending hours checking mine. This level of responsibility, especially knowing that my work would potentially affect the experiences of over 750 people, definitely made me anxious at first. But, as Justin was sure to deliver a constant stream of guidance and praise, I gained confidence in my own abilities: drafting my own emails to large groups of people, doing projects first and asking questions later, answering questions without triple checking with him first.
As we worked towards this ultimate goal, every day was different. The daily logistic and administrative work had to be done, but in the meantime we attended conferences and summits, we went downtown to shoot promotional videos, we attended A-team meetings, and so much more. If Justin had somewhere interesting to be between 8:30 and 3:00, Monday through Thursday, he brought me with him to listen and learn about what goes on in education in this city.
The conference day was hectic and exciting – fielding questions, running up and down, and up and down, the long hallway, troubleshooting technology that I knew nothing about (and usually succeeding!), but most of all it was amazing working with the group of people who made the conference happen. After working with Justin for so long, I was suddenly working more closely with Glen and Kyla and Doug and Robert and Matia and Lwam and Andrew, and they all listened to me and trusted me like Iike I wasn’t just an 18 year old in her first real job.
I’m going to miss this place. Every day after work, my mom and I marvel at how lucky I was to happen into this internship, and what a pathway it has opened up for me that I may not have ever even considered before. I hope to be able to return at some point, even if just to volunteer at the SEL conference next year and say hi to everyone in the office who said smiled at me every morning and welcomed me with open arms into their monday morning jumpstart. Thank you, Opportunity NOW!