By Junior Associate: Natalie Hall
The past eight weeks I’ve been here have been filled with many lessons and challenges. I could write for days about what I’ve learned thus far, but here’s a quick summary:
- In education, change happens slowly, and seeing the effects of those changes is even slower. This is true of both high level and low level changes.
- Always say “thank you”. One day, my supervisor was kind enough to set up a meeting for me with one of his contacts in another office. I only met with that contact for about 15 minutes, but I think sending a short “thank you” email afterwards showed that I genuinely appreciated their time.
- Never think that you’re above the “intern-y” tasks. The UELIP internship advertises itself as giving interns substantial work—and it does! But that does not mean that on the days that your team is swamped and needs you to go make a hundred copies, that you’re not adding value. Remember that if they didn’t have a UELIP, one of them would be doing it themselves. Go into those tasks with positivity, and trust me, your team will be all the more appreciative.
- Take advantage of the resources the UELIP experience provides. Chief Chats, social outings, school visits, UELIP alumni, professional development workshops…the list goes on.
- Get to know your team. I don’t just mean asking how their weekend was Monday morning. Offer to take your team’s manager/director out to lunch; get your supervisor to talk in depth about how they got to DCPS and the challenges they face here. Overall, don’t count on people just reaching out to you all the time because you’re the UELIP.
- If you have the opportunity to visit a school, GO. Not only is it just really cool, but it reminds you what and who you’re serving through participating in this internship.
Natalie Hall is a rising senior at Duke University interning with the School Turnaround/Race to the Top Team in the Office of the Chief of Schools. After a Duke abroad experience at a South African Children’s home exposed her to strengths and challenges in the South African educational system, she felt the urge to learn more about education in the US, leading her to apply to the UELIP program. As a UELIP, she has been responsible for researching and writing a report on community foundations, helping to plan her team retreat, and learning more about the Students Forward initiative. She will be graduating in the spring with a degree in Public Policy.