2015 Intern Reflections

Alejandra Mena

WJS Consulting Group

“Learning how to grow from mistakes and accept, absorb, and incorporate criticism were two valuable goals I achieved during my stay in Minneapolis. I always wanted to turn in the “best work” to my supervisor. If he critiqued something I did, I immediately thought I let him down, because it wasn’t perfect from the get-go. However, I learned that the advice and guidance of another person, especially a knowledgeable or established person in the field, is crucial to improving one’s work and oneself. This is a basic life skill that is difficult to master. With one particular report I turned into my supervisor, we went through about eight drafts. I sent it to him, he critiqued it, I incorporated his feedback, sent it back, and the cycle started again. I paid attention to my mistakes and asked myself why he pointed this out or highlighted that. I became more open to hearing criticism once I realized that my best work came out of it.”

Roselyn Cruz


“The Yale Club of MN creates a great atmosphere. Yale alums were welcoming and hosted many invents for us including informal discussions about life at Yale, canoeing, sporting events in the Twin Cities. I would recommend BOTL to Yalies who are interested in exploring an overlooked but wonderful city in the Midwest with generous support from Yale alumni. BOTL also gives students the opportunity to learn about different careers from Yale alums and to meet other undergrads.”

Eleanor Marshall

Hmong College Prep Academy

I originally applied for my position at the HCPA due to my interest in Hmong history, and in American refugee experiences — particularly non-assimilation models of advancement. Through the course of my internship, I also ended up learning a lot about contemporary issues in public education, and getting hands-on experience with good pedagogy especially for ELL students. My internship felt like an abridged version of being a student teacher or first year teacher. This fostered a more serious interest in education on both the level of structures and issues and in terms of pedagogical models and engaging with students in the classroom. I am now more seriously considering a career in the field of education, and hope to use my remaining time at Yale to study alternative pedagogical models. I grew immensely through the relationships I built with the students who participated in the summer program, even though it was such a short time. Some of my favorite students were those who were very new to America, struggling the most with learning English and/or had additional behavorial problems. I particularly loved working with students on creative writing techniques and reading what they had to say about their own stories. I wish I could have worked with the students for more long term growth.”

Lindsey Hogg

Headwaters Foundation for Justice

“My personal goals were to make friendships in the company, develop as a more independent contribution to the overall work, and develop my skills speaking in front of groups. I accomplished these goals more than I expected–I wound up forming very close relationships with my coworkers (I actually attended my boss’s wedding!), I developed a comparative analysis with almost no direction, and I presented it eloquently and successfully. Overall, I felt that I grew much more independent and confident this summer. My weaknesses often lie in that I second-guess everything that I do. It takes a lot for me to look at my work and tell myself “this is good.” I was able to overcome that weakness a bit this summer; I can look at the work I did and feel good about it, knowing that I actually contributed to a project that will continue to make a difference in Minnesota.”

Serena Lau

Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

“I’ve got to say that I’ve fallen in love with Minnesota and the Twin Cities – the people, the lifestyle, everything. I know I haven’t lived through a Minnesotan winter yet, but I definitely plan to end up in Minnesota at some point in my life. Just being surrounded by so many trails and getting to experience so many outdoors activities with BOTL (like canoeing, which I’m not very good at as I’ve learned, and trapshooting, which I was pleasantly surprised to be decent at – but that’s beside the point) made me realize how much I value a wonderful work-life balance. And for that, I’ve really got to thank the wonderful people running the BOTL program, as well all the generous alumni who served as mentors or otherwise supported us, for making such a wonderful program possible.”

Micah Osler

Hmong College Prep Academy

“Preparing for this internship, I hoped to improve my communication/group planning skills and evaluate whether teaching was a worthwhile potential career path for me. These goals were profoundly intertwinted with the substance of the internship. There was no way for me to avoid improving my group planning skills when I had to figure out a four-week program alongside two other interns; there was no way for me to avoid improving my communication skills when I had to somehow try and make grammar interesting to a classroom full of easily-distracted teenagers. Having had a brief stint as a grocery store clerk as my only previous real employment, I was sorely lacking in my understanding of professional relationships. This internship taught me how to develop and cultivate them with my fellow interns and with the teachers and administrators at HCPA. My final goal, to evaluate whether teaching was a worthwhile profession for me, provided me with the most surprises. I had gone into the internship frankly doubting that teaching would be “for me” – that is to say, I thought I’d be pretty bad at it and wouldn’t connect with the students. As it turns out, that wasn’t the case. The students seemed to like my lessons, I got to teach material that I thought was worthwhile, and I found that I actually enjoyed getting up every morning at 6:30 because of how much I liked teaching. I plan on researching opportunities for a potential career in education and, potentially, taking courses that could lead me to such a career.”

Esther Woo

Milkweed Editions

“My goal for the internship was to get my foot in the world of publishing – I believe that I was able to fulfill this goal. I was able to work on a variety of projects and faced a variety of challenges, from editorial to marketing. At work, I learned to be bolder about honestly expressing my concerns and voicing my honest opinion.”

Jackson Beck

United Strategies

“Over the course of the summer, I learned how to become a better self-starter, taking the initiative to get work done even when work didn’t immediately come to me. I became comfortable working in a new political environment, and I developed the confidence to both act decisively and ask questions when I was afraid of moving forward on an assignment. I also learned how to present my ideas in a professional environment where everyone was older than I am, which sounds easy enough but could still be intimidating. On the other hand, I also got better at listening to other people’s ideas and taking other people’s advice. I was particularly proud to be recognized as a strong writer in the office. After doing well on a few assignments, my supervisors started having me help with more writing-heavy tasks. Near the end of my internship, I sat in on a three-hour meeting with Everytown for Gun Safety, one of United Strategies’ clients that is pushing for stronger gun control in Minnesota. I felt like I was part of the most important conversation on gun control in the Midwest, and I wasn’t bored for a second. Without going into too much detail, the meeting was the culmination of years of planning, and it paved the way for effecting significant change in the years ahead. The meeting ultimately reaffirmed my interest in political consulting and made me appreciate the tremendous amount of planning that is necessary to effect meaningful change.”

Liza Rodler

Hmong College Prep Academy

“As someone in the Education Studies program at Yale, I was very interested in how charter schools function. My internship gave me experience both in the classroom and behind the scenes at a school that serves a very unique refugee population. I was forced to learn how to serve a group I was not familiar with, work with other Yale students to design a program by collaborating and dividing research, and how to work under a supervisor with opinions that were both well-informed and sometimes different than my own. I plan to build off of the experiences I gained at HCPA by applying what I learned in a policy setting. I have a new respect for teachers, and a stronger desire to work further upstream to address the downstream issues I observed.”

Sherry Li

Grassroots Solutions

“During my summer at BOTL, I made several new connections with peers, alumni, and other locals around the Twin Cities area. I definitely came out of the summer a more adventurous person who values new experiences, trying things outside of my comfort zone, and connections on a personal level. I am more comfortable communicating and making decisions in foreign environments. The many activities, BOTL-organized and otherwise, were greatly appreciated. I was able to try many new things that I had never done before, such as see a professional orchestra play, go trap shooting, watch a major league and minor league baseball game, see a queer performance, attend a Pride Parade, and went kayaking and paddleboarding. These are just a few of the things I did in the Twin Cities that I had never experienced before. We attended musicals, tried new foods, and I ran barefoot along the Mississippi River. I learned that Minneapolis is thriving, liberal city, and really, I learned the ropes of the city better than I know the my hometown. It was a great first place to live on my own for a summer.”

Analia Cuevas-Ferreras

Advocates for Human Rights

“Originally, I went in with the hope to learn about the asylum process and to obtain an understanding of the American immigration system, but I left the internship having gained so much more. I now have extensive experience working with victims of trauma and torture both in intimate settings as well as in public settings like immigration court. I learned the intricate workings of the asylum process. For example, I was surprised to learn that potential asylum-seekers have one year to file for asylum from their date of entry. I am also now familiar with the screening and in-take process that is necessary in order to determine what cases have a higher chance at succeeding in the US legal system. My internship also ignited in me a passion for learning more about the inner workings of a non-profit and of career paths leading to non-profit work. In order to receive insight into the non-profit world, I organized informational meetings with staff members working on the various missions of the organization and part of the different parts of the organization. Not only did these meetings provide me with the understanding that I sought, but they also allowed me to create meaningful connections with brilliant individuals in the organization.”

Shoshana Davidoff-Gore

Council on Crime and Justice

“Working at the Council on Crime and Justice and living in a new city for the summer were both incredible experiences and allowed for a lot of personal growth. The alumni sponsored housing and activities helped to provide a nice middle ground between living on my own, cooking for myself, and embarking on my own adventures, with feeling like I had a support system if I ever needed anything. My work this summer opened my eyes to an area of the American criminal justice system that I had never before considered, and will likely shape what I focus on in my major. I think that I definitely strengthened my networking skills, and my ability to take initiative without always needing permission or direct instructions. I am very proud of the work I was able to contribute to the Council, particularly the independent research I conducted about designing a successful social media campaign. Some of my favorite parts of the summer included exploring the entire city by bicycle, taking the opportunity to get more fit and active, and connecting with some extended family that lives in the Twin Cities.”

Elizabeth Spenst

Juxtaposition Arts

I can say that my summer at JXTA helped me grow more confident in my ability to do what I feel inspired to do. The Executive Director was very hands on and personable with me from the beginning, so I felt comfortable enough to suggest starting a Snapchat and Tumblr early on. Other employees took me out to lunch and coffee, so I learned the value of hospitality and I will definitely do the same when I am on the other side of the table.
I also grew more confident in my belief that I want to work in an arts related institution in the future. Being surrounded by creative work every day was an experience that is hard to put into words, and I am grateful for it. I also want to have a career that does meaningful work for communities and individuals, like how JXTA is helping to transform the community of North Minneapolis.