Frances Lu ’16, Teach For America

Frances-LuOn the foggy morning of March 20th, I arrived at the San Francisco office of Teach For America. I didn’t know what to expect from the day, but I was very excited to find out. For several years, I have been interested in the possibility of entering a career in education reform or research. I already knew about Teach For America’s teaching corps but wanted to learn more about other branches of the organization. When I entered the TFA office, I was introduced to Mrs. Courtney Monk ‘01, who works in Teach For America’s Alumni Affairs Department.

After quickly showing me the office area, Courtney and I began our day. She works on national strategy and operations with other teamLu 2 members around the country. Her work involves a lot of data crunching where she uses alumni data to create statistics and projections of future alumni. Her job puts her in a very interesting position. Because she works on a national team with teammates who are all around the country, she can basically work anywhere.  She frequently has important meetings and conference calls with members of her team and other administrators to discuss matters relating to alumni data and statistics such as retention rates.  I watched and participated in several meetings and conference calls during the day. It was exciting to get a glimpse of a different side of Teach For America.

My Princeternship was a very rewarding experience. I received great career advice and learned what type of data analysis work is done in education nonprofits. I would like to thank my alumni host Courtney Monk very much for letting me shadow her for a day!

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!

Tula Strong ’15, Teach For America

Tula-StrongOver intercession, I had the pleasure of working in the Recruitment department at Teach For America headquarters in New York, New York. For two days during the break, my fellow Princetern and I were given the ability to meet numerous Teach For America employees and work on a TFA marketing campaign specialized for Princeton’s campus. For me, I went into this trip curious about how a good teacher is chosen. As a teacher prep student, I have been trying to understand what are the characteristics and ways of thinking of great teachers. The Teach For America mission thrives on picking undergraduates who will be great teachers. The first two years of teaching are infamously difficult, and the fact that TFA corps members primarily serve during their first two years of teaching is significant. Teach For America has to choose people who will be great teachers, and I was curious to see how the organization did so.
Over the course of my two days, I was able to find out the answers to my questions very quickly. The very first day that me and my Princetern partner walked into the office we were met with people passionate about the Teach For America vision, and wiling to answer any questions, hesitations, and ideas we had about the organization. I learned that Teach For America looks for potential amazing teachers from many different backgrounds. They seek people who can relate to the diverse students they have—a diversity that includes so many aspects. They seek leaders, those who are able to work with people, determined, persistent, and diligent. These characteristics make perfect sense for the mission of the organization, and it gave me a new perspective of what goes into a good teacher. Throughout my two days, I definitely consider these conversations with the members of Teach For America the most valuable. I was able to see the organization from the perspective of those working for it. I saw how the organization is trying to spread awareness of the things that need to be fixed in the education system, and how recruiting corps members to go into high-needs schools gives these corps members a sensitivity and connection to education reform. I can only respect that mission and the Teach For America efforts.

In addition, the work environment at Teach for America very much aligned with its mission. Teach For America is a young determined organizationStrong 4 with innovative ideas, and the work environment at the headquarters is definitely youthful and modern. There were exercise balls that replace typical office desks all around the office, numerous colorful lounge areas, and cute wall displays. The majority of workers seemed to be in their 20’s or early 30’s, and were diverse in many ways. Nonetheless, the work climate was very effective and focused.

Overall I am very grateful that I was able to go on this trip. I learned a lot about the organization and gained a lot of respect for the organization. Thank you to Sylvia Monreal, Alex Krupp, Joseph Picini, and Sumin Lee for organizing our Princeternship and helping us throughout it!

Christian Brown ’14, Teach for America

Christian-BrownTeach for America is a national nonprofit whose mission is to “eliminate educational inequality by enlisting high-achieving recent college graduates and professionals to teach.”  TFA corps members teach for at least two years in low-income communities around the nation, and after their terms of service, they become members of a larger movement to effect change in our nation’s public schools. Teach for America alumni go on to become school leaders, pursue careers in medicine and consulting, and start their own entrepreneurial ventures.  And in all of their endeavors, they continue to demonstrate exceptional loyalty to and support for Teach for America.  So when I began my internship I was especially interested in learning about recruitment.  I wanted to know more about how TFA attracted talented leaders who remained committed to education and reform beyond their classroom service. 

Fortunately I was able to work with the recruitment team for most of my internship.  I, along with one other Princeton student, was responsible for putting together a Princeton-specific recruitment project for the TFA team.  Our task was to research alumni of TFA who had also attended Princeton as their undergraduate university.  We were then instructed to come up with a survey to help them convey to current Princeton students the value of having gone through the TFA program.  We wanted to know about their experiences in the corps, the networks and opportunities their service made available to them, and their current careers.  I was astonished in conducting our research at how many alumni remained in education following their time in the corps and at the diverse leadership roles that TFA alumni held in all sectors.  The purpose of this project was to use this information to make future recruitment campaigns more applicable and appealing to Princeton students in particular. 

The most important thing I learned about recruitment is that it is done in a very personal, detailed manner.  Recruiters put a great deal of energy into targeting students that would be ideal for TFA, but they also put a good deal of energy into increasing campus awareness of TFA and the work that its alumni are doing in different sectors.  I was able to sit in on a recruiting call and was inspired both by the recruited student’s enthusiasm and by the recruiter’s zeal.  It was amazing to hear from a student who was really passionate about civic engagement and education and was being introduced to TFA for the first time.  It seemed like the perfect organization to match her interests.   

My project for the recruitment team was only one of Brown, Christian 2many experiences that made my time at Teach for America headquarters rewarding.  The energy of the employees and the work environment were other major factors.  Members of the TFA headquarters team are enthusiastic and passionate about their work.  Although the office is sufficiently hectic, team members work together to support one another and create a low-stress environment.  In addition, the office is organized around open spaces for collaboration, but also includes many spaces that were described as “places to hide.” Among these places to hide were phone booths and conference rooms named for TFA regions nationwide.  These rooms serve as a daily reminder of the mission that underlies the work done in TFA headquarters.  Although staff at headquarters may be removed from the classroom, they still share a passion for students and educational outcomes.  Every day of my internship I had the pleasure of listening to team members talk about why they were passionate about education and the work that TFA does. 

Brown, ChristianNot surprisingly, there is an extensive network of Princeton alumni at TFA headquarters and they work in a wide range of departments including GDP (growth, development, and partnerships), recruitment, finance, and tech.  I even learned for the first time about an expansion of Teach for America called Teach for All.  This branch of the organization helps other entrepreneurs develop models similar to TFA in their respective countries.  Finally, I was impressed by the unassuming plaque denoting the office of founder Wendy Kopp ‘89.  It resembled a chalkboard with her name written simply in white.  I enjoyed connecting with these alumni, especially our official host, Alex Krupp ’10, who was a member of Shere Khan A Capella, Ivy Club, and the student committee that helped re-open Campus Club.  Alex was eager to share her experiences and learn more about current events in the Orange Bubble. 

Overall I had an amazing experience at Headquarters.  Not only was I able to learn about myriad aspects of the organization, but I was also able to make meaningful connections with Princeton alumni and other team members.  I would like to thank Princeton alums Alex Krupp and Sylvia Monreal for organizing my visit and giving me the opportunity to contribute to their organization.  I highly recommend this Princeternship to all Princeton students.

Jalisha Braxton ’16, Teach for America

Jalisha-BraxtonIt is difficult to attend Princeton and be involved in the education reform movement on campus without hearing about Teach For America, the nonprofit organization founded by Princeton alumnus Wendy Kopp. Being a freshman, I was less versed than most other students on the intricacies of the Teach For America organization, but my Princeternship at the Teach For America Headquarters in NYC helped expose me to all of the organization’s educational endeavors.

My first day at Teach For America was phenomenal: after waking up early to catch the train from Princeton to NYC, I and another Princeton intern were graciously welcomed to TFA Headquarters by various employees, including many Princeton alumni like Sumin Lee ’09, and Alex Krupp ’10, our Princeternship host. After we received our warm welcome, a tour of the facility commenced, and we were allowed to freely explore the SaschaSuminJalishadifferent departments of the organization, ranging from recruitment and marketing to technology and growth and development. The rest of the first day focused around getting to know more about Teach For America as an influential organization. My fellow Princetern and I were encouraged to tailor our experience towards our own personal interests, and were permitted to speak with individuals from various fields and backgrounds who were devoting their lives to improving education. It was really great to see that the organization, though divided into so many diverse departments, could still successfully unify them all under the common goal of closing the achievement gap.

The final two days of the Princeternship were centered around a recruitment project developed for the other Princetern and I: we complied a list of 10 influential Princeton alumni who participated in the TFA Corps Program, created a survey that could be sent to those alumni to obtain stories about their experiences in TFA, and drafted an email that would encourage the Princeton alumni to complete our survey. The purpose of our project was to gather information from alumni that would CompanyCoreValuesencourage current Princeton undergrads to apply to the TFA Corps program. I really felt like the work I did as an intern at TFA was beneficial to the employees of the organization, specifically Joe Picini and Michaela Grosso, two amazing members of the Recruitment Team who work endlessly to encourage students in New Jersey to join the corps. Their appreciation helped make this Princeternship experience unforgettable, and so I would like to thank them, in addition to Alex, Sumin, Sylvia Monreal, and everyone else at Teach For America for this wonderful opportunity.

Overall, I would say the greatest thing I learned from my Princeternship experience is that everyone, no matter their interest or major, can contribute to the education reform movement. Through my Princeternship, I have also gained an invigorating desire to continue working in the field of education, and hope that my work will inspire others to do the same.