Monday, August 27, 2012

The SMART Summer Intern Experience

This summer, SMART was thrilled to host two of our high school-aged Scholars, George and Annie as interns. Here in their own words, a few reflections on their internship experiences....

Annie is a sophomore at Lowell High School. She graduated from San Francisco Friends School in 2011 and will graduate from high school in 2015.

"I have been a part of SMART for over four years now, but I had never really understood what really happened behind the scenes. After spending the entire summer at SMART and working closely with the staff, I quickly realized the tremendous amount of effort and energy needed to make SMART work. It was definitely surprising to see how complicated it is to operate a non-profit youth program!

My CAP internship at SMART marks the first time in my life I was given actual responsibility. Although I mainly did tiny tasks this summer, I developed and perfected numerous personal skills. This summer, my main responsibility was acting as the teaching assistant for the art class at the SMART summer program for fifth and sixth graders. In this type of working environment, I knew skills like critical thinking would be useless and forced myself into exercising skills like patience and leadership.

My social and communication abilities have also significantly improved (of course, in my opinion). For example, in the beginning of the internship, I was very reluctant to help Ana Maria make phone calls. However, like the saying “practice makes perfect,” I slowly found myself more and more comfortable communicating with others—not with just peers, but also with adults. Working at SMART was definitely a meaningful learning experience for me.

I do not feel that I had made a significant contribution to SMART/CAP considering the amount of work SMART staff does. My work generally revolved around supporting and helping out the staff in their work, like creating folders and labels for Melanie and supporting Ana Maria in the art class. So, my contribution to SMART/CAP was an indirect one.

My advice for future interns is to work hard and be comfortable with learning and making mistakes. Also, I promise you that the first phone call you make will be awkward."

George is a current junior at University High School. He graduated from Cathedral School for Boys in 2010 and will graduate from high school in 2014.

"By interning here at SMART, I was really able to develop and sharpen general life skills. One of the larger tasks I had this summer was to organize, and more importantly, promote the social events that SMART was hosting. After organizing multiple events, I now have a greater understanding of the steps that need to be taken to create a successful social event--whether reaching out to people a week or two in advance, or constantly reminding people of upcoming events--these are necessary measures for a successful event. I say successful because there was an event I organized this summer in which nobody showed up. That was a disappointment, but I learned after that, and our more recent events have had a better turn out. Having the opportunity to develop my leadership and organizational skills was a huge benefit because now I have a greater ability to take on large projects and efficiently complete them.

As I am only a student, I think that my contribution to SMART and CAP was limited. However, I was able to offer my insight on CAP's development. Since CAP is a new addition to SMART, the knowledge of students is crucial to creating a program that will maximize its benefits towards the students and their families. This was why I decided to create and form a Student Board at CAP. This Board is close to complete, and will be starting up this school year. Through this Board, students will be able to voice their opinions about CAP and propose any ideas or activities for SMART to host.

If there was one thing I took away about the operation of a non-profit organization, it is probably that the budget can be tight. Buying supplies or covering costs for student activities means that the budget has to always be referred to.

I want to thank the SMART staff for giving me the opportunity to work with them and taking the time to teach me new things."

No comments: