- What is your name and alma mater? Which UELIP cohort were you a part of?
My name is Philemon Atieku, member of the Fall 2015 UELIP cohort. I studied Political Science and Leadership as an undergrad at the University of Maryland, and continued my graduate studies in Public Policy there as well.
- What is your current position? What does your work entail?
I serve as the Operations Coordinator in the Office of Talent and Culture (OTC) in DCPS Central Office. My main tasks include managing the office’s budgets and procurements (i.e., making sure we don’t overspend!), preparing contracts, and attending to general office operations that keep OTC a well-oiled machine.
- What position were you in as a UELIP? What project(s) did you work on?
I worked in the Office of College and Career helping build an employee skills curriculum and rubric, which DCPS teachers and partners could use to prepare DCPS student-interns for the professional world. I also assisted in writing an intern training manual and planning school-based events such as college fairs and speaker panels.
- What were your fondest memories from the UELIP program?
In my very first meeting on my very first day at DCPS Central Office, Chancellor Henderson came into the room, and I vividly remember feeling struck by her presence. She embodies DCPS’ mission and passionate commitment to its schoolchildren, all of which inspire me to come to work every day. I also really enjoyed the Chief Chats, where the heads of each office spoke with UELIPs about their team’s major work and how they got to where they are today.
- How does your past experience with the UELIP program inform your work now?
The content knowledge I picked up as a UELIP was not as transferable as the broadly defined skills that working in Central Office taught me. The experience I gained in communication, organization, writing (concision is key!), and how to comport myself in a professional office setting was invaluable.
- What advice would you give to your past UELIP self?
Do more networking! UELIP brings an incredibly diverse and talented group of students and young professionals together into one space. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn from one another and make connections with people you admire. I would also tell my younger self to take more time to learn about the different roles in Central Office and their finer-level responsibilities. Put yourself out there, ask for more work, and gain as much experience as you can.
- What is one important relationship that you formed as a result of your time as a UELIP?
My supervisor continues to support me, and we frequently keep in touch. The UELIP program manager at the time also helped me secure my current position in Central Office after the internship ended. With regards to forming meaningful relationships, I would remind all prospective UELIPs – in Central Office and in life – to be humble and respectful toward everyone you meet, because you never know in what context you’ll meet them again.
- In what ways would you like to grow in the next five years?
I still want to be working in the education and/or nonprofit sector for sure, hopefully within DCPS. I would like to be more involved in the policymaking process. My dream is to one day set policy initiatives for children who want to go to college but don’t necessarily have the means. I moved from Ghana to Maryland when I was 12, and I’m currently brainstorming ways in which I can increase access to secondary and higher education for kids in those communities overseas. My passion is helping youth become successful, so I ultimately want to grow as a leader and move into roles that maximize my impact on others’ personal growth.