Contributor Morgan Howard just finished her internship with Teach For America. Here's what she learned -- and what others can take away from her experience.
Above, Morgan (back row, third from left) poses with her coworkers. Photo courtesy of Morgan Howard.
Morgan Howard, a rising senior at UNC, will be interning with Teach For America in Houston this summer. She’ll be keeping a diary about her experiences. You can read her first post here, her second post here and her third post here.
My internship is officially over, and I am back in North Carolina. I feel like just yesterday I was packing to leave, but at the same time, it felt like a long six weeks. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect when I found out I was going to be interning with Teach For America. I went in with the goal to learn more about how a large nonprofit operates and how TFA was approaching education equity. While I did learn those things, I also learned a lot about myself.
Company culture is important.
As a senior in college, job searching is pretty much all anyone is talking about. What kind of job do I want? Where do I want to be located? But rarely are company culture and environment prioritized. The people I worked with this summer are the embodiment of “work hard, play hard.” I felt pushed, yet encouraged. I felt like no topic was off limits — from pop culture, to political decisions, to the best places to go out in Houston. Having that ability to be seen as both an intern and a young adult was something I didn’t realize was important to me when it came to a work environment.
Flexibility is an asset.
When people asked me what I was doing this summer, it was kind of hard to explain. My role was to do expenses, handle rental cars and create a weekly newsletter. However, being an operations associate means being a team player and helping where you are needed. I helped count and pass out materials for teachers, set up events and direct people to various locations. Because of this, I was able to see all the moving parts of the Institute and better understand how they work to achieve a common goal.
Lean in to curiosity.
This summer, I was good about asking questions when it came to my job. But I wasn’t quite as proactive about asking when it came to things outside of work. I worked with some really cool people, especially my managers, and I wish I had taken more time to talk to them about things they have done post-graduation. It is still early enough that I can explore different career paths, but that means actually doing the work of talking to people with actual experience doing it.
After finishing my internship with Teach For America, I feel better prepared for the future. I learned new skills I can bring to the organizations I will be working with this year. Most importantly, I met a great group of people that I know are going to do amazing things in the future, and I am happy to have them in my corner. With the people, the place and the work, I could not have asked for a better summer internship!