Going into my summer internship, I believed this summer would be full of learning, strictly learning. What I soon discovered was far from only learning, I was teaching. Immediately, I was introduced to Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), and started learning and teaching. JAG, a program that before this summer meant nothing to me, has now ingrained itself in me. It has also really been an eye-opening experience.
Before I dive into why this program is so important to me, I want to describe it in a little more detail. JAG is a state-based, national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who are most at risk. JAG’s mission is to keep young people in school through graduation and provide work-based learning experiences that will lead to career-advancement opportunities, or to enroll in a post-secondary institution that will lead to a rewarding career. The Milliner & Associates (M&A) team have partnered with the Decatur Central High School JAG program since December 2014. I joined this program the very first week of my summer internship this year, and I instantly fell in love.
During a visit to Decatur Central, our team was focused on conducting mock-panel interviews with the senior class. This process was intended to better prepare the seniors for interviews that they will come across in the near future. We asked each student three questions and graded them on their response, preparation, skill-set demonstration and many other things. This was a great way for me to gain experience conducting interviews. As well as, an outstanding way for the students to familiarize themselves with dressing professionally and having a professional interview. My favorite part was giving constructive feedback to the students at the end of the interview. It was an opportunity for me to coach them on skills they were lacking and praise them on what they excelled at (which was a whole bunch).
When I say this experience was eye opening, that’s an understatement. I went from tears of laughter, to tears of emotion from personal stories and all the above. There truly is nothing better than being able to give back to students. They took a lot from the experience, but I probably received more from it. I made friends, connections and was able to bond with each student. Believe me when I say, they were over-the-top appreciative of everything our team was able to give.
On our last day of interviews, I couldn’t help but feel upset that my time with JAG was almost up. I didn’t know why I felt like this, but I know I wasn’t alone. Our whole team was upset that we didn’t get to visit Decatur Central until the fall semester, and I would never come back.
Fast forward to the end of my summer internship and I can gladly say that I have yet to see my last day with the JAG students. I have accepted the offer to extend my internship with Milliner & Associates. I will be returning to school in the fall and continuing to help develop these unbelievable students.
During my time at Milliner & Associates, my manager/mentor, Nicole, has really expressed her passion for our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative. In the beginning I didn’t understand why, but since I have experienced a week with these students, it’s an absolute no-brainer. This experience was nothing short of unbelievable, and I highly encourage every intern to learn about your company’s CSR or to build your CSR.
As Gandhi said, “Find yourself in the service of others.” This is exactly the opportunity our CSR gave me, a chance to really find myself and develop my skills while working to better others. This opportunity was truly one of the best work-related experiences I have ever had and I am forever grateful for it all.