Testimonials

Monica, BOTL ’16

MicroGrants

“I have always been interested in working in the nonprofit world. While I was in the Twin Cities, I hoped to explore this line of work. I asked plenty of questions to my coworkers, and I networked with employees of other organizations. I also took advantage of the Yale Alumni Association, in order to get additional information. Through these conversations, I learned a great deal! I am looking forward to implementing this knowledge in my future career.

MicroGrants has an incredibly welcoming staff. I felt comfortable in the office right away! I cherish the relationships that I’ve formed with each and every person in the office. It was their kindness and friendship that made me smile each time I walked into work. While I was at MicroGrants, I worked in some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in the Twin Cities. Through my work, I was able to help them, even in small ways. I came to understand a wide variety of people and got to know the struggles of their lives. These relationships were incredibly enriching, and I hope to continue this work in the future.

The most rewarding aspect of Bulldogs on the Lakes was the Mentorship Program. I was paired with Cynthia Lee, a lawyer in the Twin Cities area. She was kind enough to show me around the neighborhood. She took me to fun events, such as orchestra concerts and barbeques. She also helped me adjust to life in the Midwest. Her guidance really meant a lot!”

Nayeon, BOTL ’16

Advocates for Human Rights

“I grew personally through this experience by developing new friendships and connections with alumni. I was aware of my introverted tendencies, but living in the same apartment with others for the first time and constantly being surrounded by people challenged my social capacity. Yet I realized the value of time spent with fellow Yalies, interns, and friends as I came to know them more and found joy in doing daily activities together such as buying groceries, cleaning, and attending cultural events. I also had the opportunity to meet with wonderfully caring alumni, especially my mentor who was extremely supportive and essential to making me feel like home in a city I had never been before.

The most rewarding aspect of this program was living together with other Yalies in one apartment building. It was not only convenient to meet up and plan potluck dinners, but also comforting to always have company close by. Another enjoyable aspect of the program was biking as the primary mode of transportation to work and other places around the city. I did not face big challenges adjusting to the city or within the Bulldogs group.”

Sasha, BOTL ’16

Hmong College Preparatory Academy

“The program was fantastic! I got to work in a field I’m strongly considering for my post-college career (education) alongside people I never would have met otherwise. I also got to explore a city that I would now love to live in after college. I also got to see the results of my work, since I was working directly with high school students. Overall it was highly rewarding and a great way to help people out.

Teaching is what I want to do after college. My internship only reaffirmed this desire, and I got to see more of the behind-the-scenes aspects of teaching, such as lesson planning and grading. One of the most valuable skills I started to develop during this internship was how to work with English language learners. The best techniques I learned were to always rephrase in a way the students would understand and teaching a skill with things they already know first rather than also with an entirely new concept. I made an effort to find out what my students were interested in (anime, Thai dramas, and sports, to name a few interests), and I related examples to those first, before adding in the more esoteric examples the ACT would use. This showed the students that they had the capability to learn these skills before applying them to things where they might not know the concept but could figure it out.

For me, the experience made me less nervous about what I’ve chosen to do with my life. Teaching is the way I’ve found to do the greatest amount of good in a way that’s meaningful to me. I got to watch my students grow, and I grew attached to them in only 4 short weeks.”

Emma, BOTL ’16

Great Plains Institute

“This summer I wanted to make new friends and get to know Minneapolis. I feel that I accomplished both of those goals in that I made friends with other members of my Bulldogs cohort who were happy to explore events happening in Minneapolis throughout the summer, which allowed us to get a better sense of the city. Additionally, I made some great friends at work who showed me around Minneapolis and took me on biking and canoeing trips. I became more confident in my ability to make friends in the workplace while maintaining a strong working relationship, which is something I find very valuable.

The mentor relationships formed in the BOTL program are extremely valuable in terms of getting to know the area as well as forming connections with the local Yale network. It was really fun to get to know all of the mentors, as they would often come to the BOTL events and sometimes organized events of their own, such as working the lunch shift at People Serving People. All of the mentors are extremely dedicated to ensuring that every Yale student has a wonderful experience in Minneapolis, and they are all great people to get to know.”

Andrew, BOTL ’16

Community Reinvestment Fund

“From living with a group of four other strangers, I learned how to communicate effectively in order to work together to form a welcoming, efficient living space. I also realized that taking the time to get to know someone is key to forming a healthy, fulfilling relationship, and that, by putting myself out there, I could become close friends with many of the other Bulldog interns in the program. Many of my most memorable moments in the Twin Cities involve exploring the parks and streets with the other interns, seeing what Minneapolis has to offer while simultaneous forming a bond through our shared experience. I vividly remember sitting on the Endless Bridge of the Guthrie Theater, and visiting the waterfall at Minnehaha Park. A number of us also visited the lake house of one of the interns in upper Wisconsin; from that experience, I realized the importance of friends and family, and of the rejuvenating qualities of nature. And from Minneapolis, I learned that while summers can be short, they are often jam-packed with activities and experiences that come together to make life worth living — Minnesotans are a robust bunch, and they have mastered the art of balancing work with recreation. From this summer, I would say that my overall outlook on life has become slanted more toward finding a balance with my future professional development and with emphasizing the values of friendship and community.

Minneapolis is a wonderful city! Because the winters are so brutal, many of the festivals and events are condensed into the summer, meaning there was something to do or see every weekend.

I’d say the most rewarding aspect of the program was discovering and learning about Minneapolis both on my own and with the Bulldogs cohort. It was incredibly fun exploring the city and the surrounding areas, and the activities the Bulldogs program sponsored were also great at getting us to see more and more of what Minneapolis has to offer. The mentors assigned to us were also great, and mine were especially helpful in recommending restaurants and answering any of the questions I had about the Twin Cities.”

Alejandra, BOTL ’15

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, BOTL ’15

Microgrants

“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, BOTL ’15

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, BOTL ’15

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, BOTL ’15

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, BOTL ’15

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, BOTL ’15

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, BOTL ’15

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, BOTL ’15

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, BOTL ’15

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, BOTL ’15

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, BOTL ’15

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, BOTL ’15

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.

Aube, BOTL ’13

Headwaters Foundation for Justice

“Never did I previously envision spending one of my summers in Minnesota, but the experience ended up being a thoroughly charming discovery.  I worked as an intern for Headwaters Foundation for Justice, a nonprofit organization that focuses on state-wide efforts to promote social, racial, economic and environmental justice.  My tasks were multi-faceted and well-balanced – I was assigned many communications-related responsibilities such as drafting press releases and newsletters, but also given the freedom to organize a grantee stories project and bike out to different areas of the Twin Cities to interview local community organizers and write stories about their work.  The BOTL program itself is also amazingly run – you will feel taken care of every single second.  Minnesota is green, lush and sunny during the summer, you’ll be able to attend plenty of wonderful cultural events with alums, be paired with a mentor and go on great midwestern camping or rafting trips.  We stayed in the Danish American Center, a spacious and modern building located right by the majestic Mississippi river – I loved living with all the other interns and becoming a tight-knit group with Yalies I probably would not have gotten to know otherwise.  My summer was educational, entertaining, and an overall blast.  I miss the Twin Cities and the people till this day.”

Thomas, BOTL ’13

Council on Crime and Justice

“The events put on by the alumni around the city were excellent.  Roughly every other week, an alum would come to Danebo to talk about his or her experience as well as giving advice to me and all the other interns with whom I lived.  Not only were these talks very helpful, I also really enjoyed hearing old stories about Yale and talking to old Yalies.  Other alumni would invite us to their houses, on boat trips, to sports events, theaters, etc., almost every week, which were also tons of fun.  The events were frequent enough to keep us entertained and constantly engaged with each other in new activities, but infrequent enough to give us time to explore the city on our own; I never felt too scheduled to read and relax during the weekend or during the week.  The housing was also very nice; Danebo was definitely different from living in a dorm, but I felt that it allowed all of the interns to hang out in common spaces, cook together, and interact with one another in ways that would not be possible elsewhere.”

Talia, BOTL ’12

Minnesotans United for All Families

“In full disclosure, when I first applied to BOTL, I was a bit skeptical about spending a summer in Minnesota.  I was initially drawn by an internship with the campaign Minnesotans United for All Families, the state-wide campaign that defeated a proposed state constitutional amendment that defined marriage as an institution between one man and one woman.  I had never stepped foot in the Midwest and did not know what to expect, but the Twin Cities and Bulldogs on the Lakes program completely swept me off my feet.  My time with Bulldogs on the Lakes was an unforgettable experience.  I spent an amazing summer in one of the lushest metropolitans I have ever seen, surrounded by amazing friends while interning with a spectacular campaign!  If you have never visited the Twin Cities, GO!  You won’t regret it.  It is a rare place where nature and urban planning coexist in perfect harmony.  The Twin Cities offer endless outdoor activities such as bike riding, canoeing, or getting lost in endless nature trails AND boasts a vibrant city life filled with baseball games, the theatre, art galleries and a poppin’ night life!  Not to mention that you are paired with great Yale alumni who serve as mentors.  As if this weren’t enough, you also get the pleasure of meeting the amazing Bill Messinger and hanging out with the fabulous Jen Knutson!  If given the chance, I would do it again in a heartbeat!”

Abby, BOTL ’12

Hmong College Prep Acadamy

“Spending the summer with Bulldogs on the Lakes was without a doubt my favorite Yale summer experience.  This is partly due to the fantastic internships BOTL offers – since it focuses on nonprofits, it offers a unique opportunity to directly engage with and feel a connection to Twin Cities communities.  But even more importantly, BOTL creates a community of its own.  The alumni network is incredibly welcoming and invested in the BOTL interns.  Living (and cooking!) with the other interns creates a sense of home, while having access to all of the Twin Cities gives a sense of adventure.  Biking to lakes, canoeing down rivers, visiting museums, farmer’s markets, nightlife, and film/art/music festivals – spending a summer in the Twin Cities was surprisingly lively.  It is this sense of always having places to explore, and people to explore them with, that I think sets BOTL apart from other Yale Bulldogs and summer programs.”

Julio, BOTL ’12

KFAI Radio Station

“My summer at KFAI Radio Station with the Bulldogs on the Lakes was truly a formative experience.  I was able to delve into media-producing and reading news stories on the air, translating for Spanish-speaking audiences, guest co-hosting a weekly show with a well-known DJ, and most importantly, gaining the experience I needed to be successful in media.  I also used social media (Facebook and Twitter) to strategize ways in promoting the radio station, which proved very successful by the end of the summer.  Now I’m living abroad in Russia under another Yale fellowship after graduating, where I research media relations.  I regularly appear on television and radio in both Russian and English.  I know my experience on the radio with the BOTL program has given me the skills I need to be an effective speaker, both on-air, and off.  The network provided to me through the BOTL opportunity has served me well in advancing my career goals, and given me a wealth of knowledge and friendships that I hold on to even today.  Thank you BOTL!

 

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