There is a famous Dutch commercial that is situated at a farewell party: The main character stands on a chair while the whole company sings his praise. Then the somewhat shy young man takes the floor and starts his speech with: "what can I say, it were two beautiful days." I felt a bit like this shy young man during the final week of my internship when I found out that the office had organized farewell drinks for me, had prepared speeches, and even gave me a custom-made coffee mug with my name on it as a parting gift.
There are several dimensions one considers to pick the “right” career: industry, size or the stage of the company, position, location, etc. We evaluate the pros and cons of each option along those dimensions carefully and weigh the importance of each at difference stages of our lives to create meaningful experiences for ourselves. Though in multiple occasions, I am reminded again and again that there is actually one single factor that is surprisingly powerful to predict our decision: the team. Whether you are in a d.school project or a small village in Himalayas, people around you will be the single determinant of the “right” decision. My summer with Mountain Hazelnuts was no exception to that.
Recently, the education innovation community has embraced the use of data in decision-making and program design. No doubt, some believe this trend can risk being taken too far. Stanford GSB professor Susanna Loeb warns against over reliance on research in education decision-making and argues for a more nuanced approach that blends data and key practitioner insights.
A benefit of working in Nairobi was the close proximity to fantastic weekend trip destinations! I recently visited Gaya Datar, GSB '14, in Kigali, Rwanda; traveled to Hell's Gate National Park and biked ten feet from zebras; went to Zanzibar with Sydney Larson and Jelena Djordevic; and went on a safari in the Serengeti. On each of these trips I experienced extremely diverse cultures within a small region. For example, I arrived in Stonetown, Zanzibar, on the last night of Eid, where the streets were filled with celebrating Muslims in brightly colored formal attire. This was quite different than the safety and order of Rwanda, which was a refreshing break from Kenya, but is also accompanied by a more rigid culture, where certain topics are only whispered about. Lastly, the Serengeti and Arusha, Tanzania, demonstrated to me the true meaning of ‘pole pole,' (translation: slowly) in Tanzanian culture, where attitudes are friendly and relaxed, but dinner takes 90 minutes to be served. :)
Two weeks after my fellowship officially ended, I returned to Roxbury Prep's Mission Hill campus to assist with the first day of school. Across its three middle school campuses, Roxbury Prep enrolls approximately 900 students. Nearly all students are students of color residing in Boston, with over 80% qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch.
As my summer draws to a close, I thought I would share three takeaways from the 10 weeks I spent at Accion’s Venture Lab.
MBAs Across America is a nonprofit focused on getting MBA students working with small businesses across America -- helping them do anything from identifying their brand and market positioning to understanding inventory costs. The premise is a 6-week cross-country road trip to spend time with, listen to, and build a relationship with entrepreneurs who are changing their local communities. This year the program includes 32 students who are working on master's degrees in business administration hitting the road to work with 48 entrepreneurs in 26 cities. My team's trip started in New Orleans and took us to Savannah, Nashville, Little Rock, and Austin.
Elevate is a company creating leadership and business academies across Latin America starting with Paraguay, where we were opening the first two schools. Working in a start-up environment I was able to internalize a lot of concepts and buzzwords I was exposed to at Stanford.
After months of construction and planning and one INTENSE week of building set-up, Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep successfully opened on Monday with 448 Transitional Kinder, Kinder, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade students.
As I wrap up my internship with an affordable housing developer in San Francisco, I have many things to reflect on and many takeaways from the summer.