I could not have hoped for anything better…

This post was written by second year student, Julia Houlihan.  Julia interned this summer at Teach for America through an Education Pioneers fellowship. Julia’s internship was made possible with the support of CASE’s Summer Internship Fund (learn more about SIF at the bottom on this post!)

This summer I had the pleasure of working with Teach For America’s Chicago Regional Team as an Education Pioneers Fellow. Education Pioneers is a nonprofit organization that recruits graduate students from schools of business, law, education and policy, matches them with education organizations to do a 10-week project and runs a professional development track for the fellows alongside the projects. In Chicago this summer, there were 41 incredibly smart and talented individuals working for an array of organizations across the city.

My Education Pioneers placement was with Teach For America’s Chicago Regional development team. TFA is in the process of growing its presence in Chicago. As the number of teachers recruited, selected, placed and supported in schools grows, the region will have to significantly increase its annual fundraising. My task this summer was to identify and evaluate new revenue sources and set the strategy to pursue these additional dollars.

As I began to carve out my summer work plan, I wanted to be sure that whatever ideas I proposed reflected the organizations key strengths, were mindful of staff capacity and promised a return on the team’s investment. My work included interviews with TFA staff and key partners, analysis of current fundraising initiatives, developing models to estimate payoffs for each initiative and conducting a sensitivity analysis around assumptions made in these estimations. Once I had identified which revenue streams to pursue, I built out tools to help staff members prioritize their work. I am very proud of my finished product—and will be in touch with my supervisor in the coming year to check in on the team’s progress toward their goals.

I would like to share a few thoughts on the specific elements that made my summer so successful:

1. The cohort experience offered by Education Pioneers was powerful. In the EP staff and fellows, I found mentorship and partnership. In a compressed work experience—and 10 weeks is short for any project—this community was a great resource.

2. Teach For America is an organization that truly invests in its people. From the outset, my supervisor and I worked closely together to figure out what I needed in order to deliver the best possible product to the organization. This was a win-win. I learned so much, and as a result delivered good work to the organization.

3. Finally, all the conversations that I had with classmates, CASE staff and the Career Management Center at Fuqua allowed me to go into the internship with high expectations of myself, of the Education Pioneers Program and of my project. This mindset affected the way that I interviewed with my placement organization, approached my project and transitioned my work at the end of the summer.

I went into Teach For America looking to develop my analytical skills and to lead upwards and sideways to ensure that the work I did could and would be utilized after my departure.  I left my summer having learned a lot and very proud of the work I did. I could not have hoped for anything better.

The Summer Internship Fund (SIF) enables first year Duke MBA-Daytime students to learn about the rewards and challenges of social sector management without making a significant financial sacrifice. In addition, the program enables organizations that otherwise could not afford to hire MBA student interns to benefit from students’ expertise.  The SIF has supported more than 130 students, distributed more than $400,000, and helped to further the mission of many nonprofit and government organizations. Funds are raised through student fundraising and from donors who believe in the mission of the program.  If you would like to contribute, you can donate online using your credit card.