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5 in 5! with Teach for America

January 19, 2011

5 Questions. 5 Minutes. 1 Employer.  This week we have Gary from Teach for America.

1.      What do you look for when you hire an intern or entry-level candidate?

One of the most important things we look for in an intern is evidence of past success.  Past success is indicative of future success, so whether it’s success in academics, success in a work environment, or success in extracurriculars, we see that as potential for a successful internship.

2.      How did you get started in the industry?  How can someone who is interested get started?

My first job out of college was as a fifth grade teacher, and the disparities I saw in my own classroom were the impetus for me to take my involvement in education to the next level.  I think an internship—either with Teach For America or with another education-related organization—is a great way to see whether education is the field for you.

3.      What’s the future of your industry or job?

This is an exciting time to be involved with education.  In just the past few years I have seen education come to national headlines in a way I’ve never seen before, thanks in part to education advocates like Michelle Rhee or Geoffrey Canada and even education outsiders like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.  Education is not just a profession for teachers or education majors any more!

4.      What is one thing an intern can do to make a favorable impression?  To make a negative impression?

Most of my colleagues agree: a positive attitude, a willingness to learn, and strong organizational skills are the key making a great impression on an employer.

5.      Can you share a positive intern story and an intern horror story?  No names needed…

Fortunately, I don’t have an intern horror story!  But I can relate a positive intern story from last year.  I joined a new team last year and managed an intern who was on the team for her second year.  She could have sat back, but she stepped up to act as a mentor to the first-year interns on the team.  She also worked with one of my colleagues to craft a new role for herself that required increased responsibility.  The initiative and commitment she displayed was inspiring, and she became a model for intern potential on the team.  When she applied to medical school the following year,I had so many positive things to relay on the recommendation form!

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