The Community Fellows Experience
The Community Fellows program offers students a unique experience to get involved in the local community through a year-long, paid internship at non-profit and government organizations. Applications are open and due at 12pm on April 15. As the current Fellows enter their last quarter in the program, we’ve asked Joe Plata and Alexis Perez from the Class of 2019 questions to reflect on their experiences thus far and share some advice for students that are thinking of applying to the program or just want to know more.
Where is your placement and what do you do there as a Community Fellow?
Alexis: I work at the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley (HFSV) as an Education Program Intern within our Hispanic Foundation College Success Center (HFCSC). HFSV is a non-profit that works in various capacities to improve the lives of the Silicon Valley Latino community. I assist the HFCSC team in providing resources to high school students that help them get to and through college. Most of my work focuses on creating resource documents for students to reference, and compiling information for the Foundation to use as it continues in its growth.
Joe: My placement is at Cristo Rey San Jose Jesuit High School. There, I’m tasked with creating and running a business and entrepreneurship club, in addition to assisting with the Senior Economics class. Through these activities, my goal is to get students interested in the field of business and help them become aware of its impacts in the real world, instead of just inside the classroom.
How valuable has your Community Fellows experience been in regards to your individual growth?
Alexis: This experience has helped me learn about myself as a person and an employee. I have gained an increased interest in working with non-profit or government organizations and am learning how to incorporate that into my current career path as an accountant. I can't express how helpful the fellowship experience has been in challenging me to think deeply about my long term career goals and overall social impact.
Joe: The Community Fellows program has completely changed my world view. My placement has opened my eyes to the inner workings of the nonprofit and educational sectors, and the issues they face. I have learned that there is so much more going on beneath the surface in these sectors than I originally expected, and it has given me a new appreciation for the work they do.
What lesson(s) have you learned as a Community Fellow that will assist you in your future career?
Alexis: During my time as a Community Fellow I have learned a lot about what environment I work best in and how to navigate unfamiliar spaces. Going from a corporate internship to a non-profit internship is a drastic change in terms of resources and daily operations, but it has encouraged me to take initiative in creating a space that works best for me and my colleagues. When faced with a challenge I now have the tools to be able to recognize where I can begin to make changes.
Joe: The biggest lesson I have learned is in regards to how difficult it can be to effectively communicate my own knowledge to other people who haven't had the same experiences as me. The students I work with haven't taken an extensive business course load or been exposed to certain issues I have encountered throughout my college career, so I had to reevaluate and alter my approach to fit my audience. I know this will help me to better communicate with people from different backgrounds in my future career.
What you would like to say to those thinking of applying to the program?
Alexis: I highly encourage anyone that has any interest in government, non-profit, or social responsibility to apply for the fellowship. As a fellow you'll have the space to explore interests outside of your major and learn about business operations from a very unique perspective.
Joe: The Community Fellows program has been a great experience and offers an opportunity to experience sectors that most people will never be exposed to. It can be a good amount of work at times, but I believe the positive impact is well worth the commitment.
Applications for the Community Fellows program are open now until April 15. Click to apply or here to read current and past Fellows’ blog posts on their unique and individual experiences in the program. Thank you to Joe and Alexis for sharing theirs with us!