This week’s blog post is written by Ibrahim Diallo, a Posse scholar at Trinity College, who did his high school internship at the Internationals Network for Public Schools office. Currently at the American University in Cairo for a semester abroad, he writes about what he learned from internship and the affect it has had on him.
My time in The Brooklyn International High School was marked by the incredible people that I met, from students to teachers. One of the greatest elements of Brooklyn International is the internship program. At the age of 15 or 16, students have the opportunity to write their resumes, apply for a professional job, go through the interview process and finally work in a professional environment for a semester. This is often something done at the college level. As a junior in BIHS, I had the opportunity to intern at Internationals Network for Public School, an organization that I am still involved with today.
As an intern, the staff at INPS focused on my personal development. I was treated as an adult and was given meaningful projects that helped me learn and develop while contributing to the organization’s operations. I showed an interest in computers and I wanted to dive into the details of networking. One of my projects as an intern was to learn about the network set up of the organization and present it to the staff. I worked on a troubleshooting manuel for the staff and gave a presentation. My work expanded to working with everyone in the organization. In addition to the concrete projects that I worked on, I developed a comfort working in a professional environment and communicating with professionals. I learned the small things that make a huge difference in the professional world: how to address people in an email, how to feel comfortable talking with professionals, and how to take notes and ask questions while attending meetings. I also helped organize an alumni discussion panel and a Community Based Organization fair. Both of these projects involved reaching out to participants, asking them to participate and coordinating their participation.
I found myself a step ahead of many of my classmates in college. Not only did I have a resume and experience in a professional environment, I now had a track record and a network of professionals that could speak about me and what I capable of doing. As a first semester freshman, I applied for an internship in a law firm. Armed with my high school experience, I went to interview in the firm and, after a checking with my reference at Internationals, I was accepted for the semester long internship at Bingham McCutchen LLP.
My internship experience helped me academically. College can be a difficult world to navigate alone, especially for those of us coming from a different country. I had numerous conversations with my supervisors at Internationals. While in college, I still relied on their guidance by asking for advice and support. Not only were they supporters of the ideas that I had, the Internationals staff were also active contributors. While at Trinity College, I started an organization called the African Development Coalition (http://adcoalition.net/.) The mission of this organization is to raise awareness about contemporary African culture, politics and economic issues on the Trinity campus and beyond, ultimately bringing together a network of civil servants to work towards peace, education and development in the continent. Every year the ADC picks one African country, which we learn about and take action. The connections that I made while at Internationals and the project management that I was involved in contribute greatly to the operations of this organization.
Today, as ADC engages in community based projects in Africa, I find myself drawing on my internship experiences to help push our projects forward. As president of ADC, I am responsible for building relationships with other organization and funders. I use the same tactics and skills I leaned four years ago at Internationals Network to carry out these tasks.