Aaron Yin ’16, Teach For America

My two days at Teach For America’s National Office in New York were very enlightening. I went with fellow Princetern Tula Strong, and our host was Sylvia Monreal ’10, a Coordinator on the Recruitment Strategy and Infrastructure Team in TFA. Ms. Monreal wasn’t able to meet us in person, but she and Alex Krupp ’10, an Associate with the National Alliances Team, set up a detailed schedule for our time at the headquarters. We also had the chance to debrief with Ms. Monreal over the phone at the end of each day. The Princeternship was very organized, allowed me to meet many fun, eager, and talented TFA members, and gave me a sense of what working with the TFA Recruitment Team is like. I thank Ms. Monreal and Ms. Krupp for planning an exceptionally educational two days!

Day 1:
We started the day by meeting Joe Picini, an Associate on the Recruitment Team, who showed Tula and I around some of the national office – each floor is really big and aesthetic – and introduced us to members of the team. We then briefed on plans for the day before talking about our interests, backgrounds, and what we wanted to get out of this experience. I was mainly interested in learning how the TFA Corps model accommodated for students’ diverse backgrounds and learning styles, as well as research done on what makes an effective teaching method.

Until noon, we worked on a project assigned to us to complete during the Princeternship. The project was part of a marketing campaign geared toward encouraging Princeton upperclassmen to apply for TFA Corps before the upcoming last deadline. Given a long list of Princeton-TFA Corps alumni and relevant information about them with regard to the survey, we were asked to:

  • Select 10 members who would be most effective for this campaign and outline our selection criteria.
  • Create a survey that would elicit good words of wisdom and stories of members’ TFA experiences.
  • Draft an email to the members to introduce the survey and ask them to complete it.

On our last day we would present our project to the Recruitment Team.  For lunch, we met up with another Princeton alum, Sumin Lee ’09, who is Executive Assistant of the Growth, Development & Partnerships Team. We had a TFAbulous time talking about Princeton experiences, career paths, what working in the real world was like – all while eating delicious NYC food.

Afterward, Sumin took us to meet Charlie Odom, Director of Selection Quality and Admissions, who told us more about the TFA Corps selection process, the qualities he and his team look for in applicants, different ways in which those qualities can be conveyed, etc. and also answered questions Tula and I had regarding our interests.

We finished Day 1 with a debrief with Ms. Monreal over the phone. She was really interested in hearing about our experience, answering any questions that we had regarding Princeton and TFA, and even followed up on our debrief, sending several helpful links and additional information the day after based on what we were interested in learning more about.

Day 2 
We spent most of the morning working on our project, getting it ready for presentation in the afternoon. For lunch, we ate with Sumin and also met a few of her friends as well, who told us about their time at Corps and working here. What’s really neat about the people working at the national office is how young and motivated they are about TFA and its goals. For me, it’s still hard to imagine myself graduating and working in a job, so seeing the people at TFA was rather inspiring and gave me a sense of the environment I would like to work in.

For our presentation, Tula and I met with Alexander Donovan (Xan), a Recruitment Director. Xan shared stories about his time at the Corps before we went over the project with him. After our presentation, he gave us insightful feedback on its strengths as well as places where it could be more specific in order to better engage the members we selected.

We ended our second day by debriefing with Ms. Monreal and talking to her about other aspects of TFA and the Princeternship experience in general.

Stepping in the shoes of Teach For America’s Recruitment Team and working on a small project definitely shed new light on my perspective of working in general and pursuing education policy and research. It was nice being around such a fresh, upbeat, and innovative community. I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone interested in teaching, learning about what makes a good teacher, and how to inspire others to pursue a career in education. This Princeternship experience is something I will definitely keep in mind while deciding what I want to major in. Thanks again to Ms. Monreal and Ms. Krupp for putting together such a comprehensive Princeternship, and thank you to everyone at TFA who shared their stories and advice with us as well!