Our class of 2018 MLK Summer Scholars: (from left) Kledion Naksi, Sitnour Elamin, Steeven Cajuste

Boston Partners was joined by three incredibly bright and talented Boston Public Schools students this summer through the John Hancock MLK Scholars Program. For two months, Kledion, Sitnour, and Steeven led an outreach project to help recruit more academic mentors for the upcoming school year. As the summer program comes to an end, our Scholars reflect upon their experience working in an office, flyering in the community, and meeting people along the way. You can read their blogs below:

A Summer of Excitement and Learning — Steeven Cajuste

I always wanted to start a non-profit organization to help give back to the communities that have helped in raising me so I was ecstatic when I got the opportunity to work as an intern at Boston Partners in Education. However, I was anxious over what my job would entail as I worked in the office. Fortunately, I had Kledion and Sitnour, fellow MLK Scholars whom shared similar feelings and we were able to help each other step out of their comfort zone.

We had the opportunity to create a video project in which the Executive Director, Erin McGrath, talked about what makes a non-profit organization successful and shared her story about how she came to her position. While funding and establishing a coherent mission are essential, she explained that the most important pillar of a nonprofit is the people that you work with.

She has created an office environment where everyone is approachable and work together as a family. The Scholars and I are grateful to have been part of that family and seek to come and work with the organization again. I felt appreciated by my fellow scholars and the office because my work and input felt valued. While we worked on our tasks, I learned about my strengths and saw the areas that I need to improve in.

We also had the opportunity to flyer different neighborhoods to recruit volunteers for our program. We had the impression that people would avoid our approach but we were amazed by how many people were willing to help their community. Despite the summer heat, we were happy to talk to people who genuinely believe in our mission to provide mentorship to BPS students.

The Scholars and I were also tasked to solicit donations for a back to school event in August. I can remember how happy we were when we got our first donation and how we challenged each other in hope to gain a prize from our supervisor and to utter the words, “I have won the challenge.” Though the challenge is not over, I can say I have won an experience which has allowed me to sharpen my social skills, learn more about the nonprofit world and meet some amazing people.

My Summer as an MLK Scholar with Boston Partners in Education — Kledion Naksi

“Come to work on time, wearing business casual clothing.”

This is what I was told when I was hired at Boston Partners in Education as an MLK Scholar this summer. So, on the morning of July 9th, my first day, I found myself outside the office at 8:30 AM — even though my shift didn’t start until 10:00 — wearing a dress shirt, dress pants and dress shoes. From the moment I stepped in, all the warm faces and welcomes obliterated my first day anxiety. Everyone in the office created a great environment for me and the other Scholars and made it seem more like a family than an office.

Being able to dress up every weekday gave me a feeling of personal pride as I’d spend every night stealing my brother’s business clothes then looking in the mirror to make sure they looked as if they were mine. The feeling of just sitting down at my own desk, with my own computer, in charge of my own schedule, with my own responsibilities definitely made me see how I’d want to live life in the future. Boston Partners in Education gave me the opportunity to see that future first hand — to live it, even if it was just for a summer.

I never expected that I’d spend an entire summer asking receptionists if we could hang a flyer in their building. The uncertainty of the answer made the flyering very fun. We’d hear answers as simple as “yes,” or were even put on the spot to give our elevator pitch and describe to the person what Boston Partners is and why they should allow us to hang up a flyer. I’d say this experience brought me out of my shell of talking to strangers.

I also never expected to be emailing tons of companies, ranging from local family restaurants to international businesses, asking if they’d want to donate anything for our upcoming back-to-school event. Nothing could explain the thrill of receiving an email back from those companies stating, “Yes, we’d be happy to donate!” The yes’ came in an abundance, letting us thrive in the joy of telling our supervisors, “Guess how much someone just donated?” with a slight smirk on our faces.

I definitely won’t forget my summer working for Boston Partners in Education, a summer that had a great balance of fun and professional development.

An Eventful Summer Experience — Sitnour Elamin

On my first day of work as an MLK Scholar, a combination of me entering a new environment, it being my first job, and not knowing my co-workers left me as a nervous wreck. But the people I’ve gotten to know over the last six weeks have made the experience very worthwhile by not only being there when I needed help on a project, but by also being open and welcoming. I’ve learned a lot over the course of this summer while taking on various projects.

Over the course of this internship, I expanded my conversation skills though soliciting donations for a back-to-school event (worth $800+) and through community outreach. I also built my technical skills through video editing and online posting.

Through collaboration with Kledion and Steeven, my fellow scholars, and other members of the Boston Partners team, we were able to complete four main projects and several smaller ones. Our main projects consisted of: interviewing and formulating a video on the executive director, Erin McGrath; conducting mock interviews and making mock hiring decision; gathering donations for an upcoming event; and flyering the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, East Boston, and Jamaica Plain.

In creating the video we practiced interviewing and video editing. While doing the mock interviews we learned a lot about how to do well in a job interview, as well as how to make a great resume. In soliciting donations, we learned how to communicate over email and on the phone, and we gathered $800 and counting in donations. And finally, while flyering, we learned how to deliver elevator pitches and how to approach people. We managed to distribute flyers to 100+ small and large business.

Additionally, we were also asked to complete some other projects which helped us explore other fields in nonprofit work. We regularly updated postings on volunteer sites, worked on layout and links for the website resource page, and brainstormed ways to recruit more scholars.

As a whole, this internship provided me with insight into what it means to work in nonprofit and how to develop the necessary skills to be successful in any field. I will be leaving here with less worry clouding my mind with regards to the years to come as I now know that with the right skills, network, and determination, securing a job is entirely doable.