This summer, BPIE was joined by three incredible Boston Public Schools students through the John Hancock MLK Scholars Program. For two months, Sitnour, Karla and Kaylee led an outreach project to help recruit more academic mentors, planned for upcoming volunteer events, and helped us with our online mentoring model for the upcoming school year. Read about their experiences as virtual MLK Scholars in their blogs below!

At the click of a few buttons, I’d find myself at work.

A work day beginning at 10am has an entirely different meaning when the term virtual is added. There is no longer the need to commute and be up at dawn. This wasn’t the experience I was expecting when I first applied to return as an MLK Scholar at Boston Partners in Education. However, through unexpected circumstances, it was the experience I am grateful to have had.

This summer was my second interning at Boston Partners in Education. The wonderful staff and the driven work they pursued left an impression on me two summers ago and I wished to return for another summer filled with as much learning experience.

This summer, however, proved to be nothing like the first. It was a very new and fresh opportunity to experience online work and to expand my time management and leadership skills. With my two amazing co-scholars, Karla and Kaylee, I was given the chance to plan my time and structure projects as we all adapted to the new reality of virtual work.

One of the most meaningful experiences this summer was our projects involving event planning, through which I was exposed to the many steps and levels there were in order to successfully carry out an event. I gained so much knowledge on varying features on excel that I will be sure to utilize in the future, while also learning about communication calendars, marketing strategies, flyer design, outreach, solicitations and so much more.

I was also able to research how to create a successful Instagram through our marketing project. This project allowed me to think more about engagement and how to best communicate with broad audiences. It was a unique opportunity to be able to directly contribute to the creation of a hopefully integral part of an organization’s outreach.

I am extremely grateful for the experience I had this summer in tangent with that of my previous summer at Boston Partners in Education. I’m also thankful to have worked with all the extremely talented, driven and kind employees at Boston Partners. I learned just as much, if not more, from them as I did from the projects we took on. I’ll be heading into college with a great deal more insight into the professional world and cannot wait to proudly submit my first cover letter knowing it was at BPIE where I was first taught how to write one.

Like many people, most of my life was affected by the pandemic – including my summer internship at Boston Partners in Education. BPIE managed to move everything online for my summer there and everyone tried their best to make it as fun and educational as possible considering the circumstances. They were all welcoming and wanted us to feel comfortable. Virtual learning is definitely something that gets tiresome but while I was working from home I picked up a few new sets of skills. Here are a few of the things I learned about: 

1. Analyzing People

Body language and anticipating when people are going to speak are a part of regular in-person conversations. It gives you a better understanding of the message coming across and helps keep a steady conversation. However, conversations in-person completely differ from online meetings. It’s more difficult to sense what someone is trying to get across. After six weeks of sitting in front of a screen, I can finally say I have a better understanding. I learned that facial expressions and tone of voice are valuable to virtual conversations. 

2. Google Sheets

I never found Google Sheets interesting, so I had never really learned how to work with them. It seemed complicated and useless, but I found out Google Sheets are actually helpful in some cases. I learned about pivot tables and got to see how useful it can be when confronted with an overwhelming amount of data.

3. Tech Issues

Everyone is still adjusting to doing everything virtually. That means everyone is learning to deal with technology issues, and everyone has most likely learned something new about the tools technology has to offer. Not understanding how to work something on your device is fine. It’s okay to ask someone to help you. It’s better to ask for help than to just sit at your desk confused trying to Google it.

4. Zoom Fatigue is Real

Zoom fatigue is inevitable but there are solutions to ease the tenseness. My first two weeks at BPIE consisted of meetings every hour – the meetings generally consisted of workshops and getting to know everyone in the office. However, sitting at a table facing a screen for hours a day made me feel depleted of energy. I had to consistently remind myself to sit up straight and concentrate. The best way I could combat Zoom fatigue is a fixture of posture and taking a walk around my yard any chance I got. Stretching after a meeting helps loosen the tension on your shoulders.

5. Be Proud of Your Work

I never realize how much work I get done without people mentioning it. The other MLK Scholars (Sitnour and Kaylee) and I did a considerable amount of work. It felt odd for all three of us to be applauded and complimented on the work we’ve done. Being proud of the work I’ve done is something I’ve come to learn and will take with me for the future.

This summer experience at BPIE was definitely interesting and educational. Would I have preferred to do it in person? Yes, but I learned things that I wouldn’t have if it was in person. I enjoyed my virtual summer internship at BPIE and am thankful for everything I’ve come to learn.

“To be fair, I got what I asked for; a new environment – I just didn’t know it would be from the comfort of my own home. “

When you are applying for a job, you usually think about what your experience would be like in a new environment. After working at Mass General Hospital for the last two summers, I made it a goal to land a job somewhere new before going into junior year – That’s what I thought at first.

I wondered what the people and working at Boston Partners In Education would be like…in an office setting, of course. To be fair, I got what I asked for; a new environment – I just didn’t know it would be from the comfort of my own home.

Aside from the unexpected news that work would take place virtually, it was to my surprise that going remote wasn’t such a bummer after all. From the minute I hopped on the many zoom calls taken on the first day, I noticed how much the staff wanted us MLK Scholars to enjoy our six weeks and it felt very welcoming.

Working at Boston Partners In Education came with many projects such as event planning, flyering, and recruitment. I found each of those skills pretty useful for my future career path as I got to see how each played into my interests. My favorite part of the whole summer was using my graphic design skills for making flyers. In total, I’ve made about ten flyers (not including drafts.)

I loved being able to be creative with posters and social media posts and found the marketing part fun. Our six weeks included weekly check ins and staff 1-1 meetings, which was nice getting to know everyone. Towards the end of the summer, we MLK Scholars got to speak with board members and received helpful advice on resumes and cover letters.

As for the other MLK Scholars, Karla and Sitnour, it was nice having them as my fellow co-workers. Throughout our time together, we had stayed on calls just talking and laughing. It was clear to see that we each had very different personalities and interests but that made things more enjoyable. I think we made a great team as we were able to complete our tasks collaboratively.

Overall, summer of 2020 did not go as planned. I never thought that I’d ever work remotely, especially as a summer intern. It was a little hard not being able to talk to everyone at the office face-to-face, and yet everyone in the Boston Partners in Education made the best of it and I can gladly say that I enjoyed my summer as an MLK Scholar.