Molly Johnson

Intern name: Molly Johnson

Major(s)/Minor(s): English / Secondary Education

Title/place of internship/fellowship, etc.: John Brandl Scholar; Summer Intern at the Minnesota Independent School Forum 

How did you find out about your internship/fellowship/etc.? I learned about the Summer Leadership Fellowship through XPD and decided kind of on a whim to apply for it. I am interested in Educational Policy, so I hoped to find an internship in that field to learn more about what that looks like in the real world. Having the fellowship would allow me to take a position with an organization who may not have had the funding to support it.
I learned about my internship position with the Minnesota Independent School Forum (MISF) through a network connection. I have attended member schools of MISF through grade school and high school so I was familiar with the organization. 

What were your responsibilities at your internship/fellowship/etc.? In my position at the Minnesota Independent School Forum (MISF), I worked on a myriad of different projects. MISF is an organization that acts as the school district for independent or non-public schools in Minnesota. They focus on connecting school leaders with one another, advocating for policy that includes non-public schools, and professional development and resources for teachers to be able to better support students. One of my main responsibilities was communicating with members, whether that was via social media, online communities, or constant contact emailing. I also helped with the de velopment of MISF's Annual Report and conducted grant research. Another responsibility I had was creating documents with concise information about safely returning to school in the fall amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The summer then culminated with preparation and facilitation of their annual STEM Education Conference.

What was the most beneficial aspect of your experience? The most beneficial aspect of my experience was the opportunity to learn more about a different side of the education field. Being able to support K-12 schools through a time of uncertainty (due to COVID-19) was both rewarding and educational. Making connections with those who have experience in advocacy work and obtaining resources for schools will benefit me in my future. Learning from other students in my fellowship cohort was also so beneficial and being able to stay connected with them throughout my career is exciting.

What was the most surprising thing you experienced or learned during your internship/fellowship/etc.? Due to the COVID-19 pandemic during the summer of 2020, my internship had to be completed virtually. While this added challenges to the position, it also helped me to learn a lot of things that I wouldn't have expected to otherwise. Being virtual taught me about the importance of not being afraid to ask for help when you need it. I learned that building connections with your boss and co-workers is so important and being able to manage tasks and time to complete your projects is essential.

How can you apply what you experienced at your internship/fellowship/etc. in the future? In my career as an educator and advocate for equitable education, I will apply what I learned about supporting schools and school leaders. I have a greater understanding of the importance of being connected with an organization like MISF to support students and develop professionally.

What advice would you offer to future students interested in this experience? Applying for the Summer Leadership Fellowship was one of the best decisions I have made. It secured me funding, not only in a time of unexpected economic uncertainty, but also to take on an internship position that I was truly passionate about and helped me further my career. Reach out to your network, and don't settle for a position you aren't excited about and confident in. Don't doubt your abilities and push yourself to say yes to a project even if you aren't sure about it, because there will always be people to help you along the way. Keep the passion kindling and always come back to your why.