Summer Fellows Experience

Note from The Fund team: We’re deep into planning for our new fellows to join us this summer, so we thought it was the perfect time to share a post written by two of last year’s summer fellows. Joe and Kristen provided immense support – including authoring many of the news posts you’ve enjoyed! – and we are so grateful we were able to work with them last year. Looking forward to our new fellows joining us this June!


Joe and Kristen here, 2015 Summer Fellows at The Chicago Public Education Fund. We’re wrapping up our summer projects and both of us are sad to go. We were asked to reflect on our experience and write about it here in the news. We thought it would be best to give you all a little bit of background on our work and then share our major takeaways with you.

Both of us came into this internship with little to no experience with the public education scene here in Chicago, especially with the Chicago Public School system. Throughout the summer, we worked on a project wherein we were able to conduct short interviews with 86 principals across the city. There certainly was a steep learning curve, and it took us a bit of time to adjust to the fast pace of work here at The Fund! But soon enough, we learned solid project management and delivered 86 principal profiles, 35 news posts, 11 site visits, various data analyses, 2 principal profile videos and 14 high-level summaries for CPS leadership. Not bad for a couple of summer interns!

While we could talk about our work forever, we thought it might be more interesting to you all to sum up our summer David Letterman style with our Top 10 takeaways.

Top Ten Takeaways from a Summer Fellowship at The Fund

1. Pivot tables are your friend. Data is an incredible force for good.

2. Principals are a diverse bunch of people. They include Chicago natives, immigrants, dentists, lawyers, actors, musicians, and more. Yet they all share an intense passion for serving the students and faculty of CPS.

3. The kitchen at the Fund is always fully stocked. No starving interns in this office.

4. Principals can make for wonderful poets. We’re looking at you, Mr. Okab Hassan of Peck Elementary School. You rock!

5. Recruiting and maintaining highly qualified principal talent takes an army of dedicated, passionate and smart individuals.

6. Principals are innovative. They take limited resources and creatively implement programs and systems that revolutionize learning for both their teachers and students.

7. Suit Days at the office aren’t as scary as they are made out to be.

8. It is incredibly important to understand the usability of a project from the beginning, especially as interns who are only present for a short amount of time.

9. Sometimes a coffee trip or walk around the block is the best way to find inspiration or make a friend in the office.

10. As fellows in the office, we were entrusted with contacting and visiting principals all across the city, which goes to show how much independence we were given. It was great to have such awesome responsibility and the ability to extend our work beyond the office!

Thank you, Chicago Public Education Fund. You have revolutionized the way we think about what non-profit organizations can achieve and have pushed us to grow immensely in our own professional development. Stay awesome.

With Fund love,

JoeJoe and KAPOW

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