My experiences at Brandeis have altered my perspective in numerous ways. For this particular internship, my role as a coordinator for General Tutoring (GT) had the greatest impact. It provided me with the skills and exposure most closely tied to the work I do at BridgeYear.
General Tutoring is part of a larger program called Waltham Group, which is the umbrella organization for about twenty smaller groups tackling various issues in Waltham. Members of Waltham Group are exposed to the range of social issues existing in the community and the ways in which one’s program and individual role fit in. Being part of an organization focused on community service allows me to draw connections with nonprofits in terms of budgeting, advertising, recruiting, and collaborating with the stakeholders involved.
General Tutoring specifically is related to BridgeYear in many ways. GT aims to provide free tutoring for K-12 students from the Waltham community. We do this by matching student volunteers from Brandeis with a tutee, according to the age and subjects volunteers prefer to teach. By leading a program in the education sector, I witness the struggle students face when they are unable to keep up in school and cannot afford a tutor, as well as their gratitude when they receive that help. As an advisor for BridgeYear, this has contributed to my understanding of students facing similar adversities in terms of lack of support and direction for their post-high school plans, which enables me to guide them better.
General Tutoring’s organizational structure is interesting and shares similarities with a nonprofit startup. Although GT has existed for a number of years, the coordinators are continuously changing as they graduate, which constantly recreates the program’s leadership, strategy, and focus. The program serves over four hundred tutees and is run by a small team of five to six coordinators, which means each member plays a crucial role. GT was one of my first and longest experiences being in a leadership position, and made me realize that I enjoy working in a role in which I can implement changes, make decisions, help and guide my team members, and have an impact on the future direction. Similarly, at BridgeYear, I work alongside a small team in which interns receive opportunities to lead meetings, handle individual projects, and become a critical part of the organization’s functions and strategy.
My project management and collaboration skills improved immensely as a coordinator, which helps me with the work I do at BridgeYear. At GT, as in BridgeYear, we are responsible for various individual projects to advance the program. We also handle operational tasks such as matching tutors and tutees and contacting them, planning events, and communicating with stakeholders. I need to be efficient in organizing my time, as both aspects of work require equal attention and time. Being both a part of GT and BridgeYear has helped me realize I get the most enjoyment and work my hardest when I see purpose and meaning behind my efforts.