Mike Angelo ’19
Summer Completion Coach, College Forward, Austin, Texas
My name is Mike Angelo, I am a junior Environmental Studies major with an Educational Studies minor. This summer I had the privilege of serving as a Summer Completion Coach at College Forward in Austin, TX.
College Forward is a non-profit college access organization that serves students across Texas in an access program and across the country in a persistence program. The primary focus of College Forward is to equip low-income and first generation college students with the tools and support to graduate with a college degree. Among other things, College Forward mentors, teaches, and empowers their students beginning junior year of high school. This summer I worked in a summer bridge program designed to assist students preparing to enter their first year of college. The cohort of interns I worked with did some typical intern activities, filing and organizing to mention some, but we were also given ample opportunities to participate in committee work and projects.
My principal responsibility was contacting students in my caseload. This was an intimidating responsibility–calling students who were only two years younger than me sounded like an awkward task. And I’ll admit, it was! However, College Forward was such a conducive environment for me to develop and enhance the necessary skills and before I knew it, I was comfortably calling students left and right.
My supervisor, Melissa Aleman, was phenomenal, to say the least. With every meeting, it became more and more evident that Melissa cared about my growth professionally. She was extremely helpful with guiding me on setting personal goals throughout the summer, and she was sure to help me get the most of my experience with the company. She also helped me translate my many ideas into action items around the office, which really made me feel like I was making a contribution to the company. Ultimately, I think the most important thing I learned from Melissa is that a supervisor isn’t someone to fear or be intimidated by, they are someone who really is there for you.
This summer I had the opportunity of interviewing candidates for the full year position. This was as daunting as it sounds. After a couple training sessions with HR, I was ready to sit in on an interview. Due to timing, I was only able to participate in one interview, but there was an extremely unexpected learning opportunity from this. Being on the interviewer side taught me that interviewers are just normal people who are looking to have a conversation with you. This experience was the single best professional development opportunity I received this summer, and I believe that it will really help me in the future relieve the stress of an interview.
I also had many opportunities to take leadership on projects this summer. One highlight was creating a resource guide for the full-time employees to learn and relay information about beneficial programs in the area to their students. I volunteered to lead this project to gain experience leading a project in an office setting. I was able to learn how to lead productive meetings and effective ways of communicating with my team. This was also my first experience setting deadlines and preliminary deadlines in a professional setting. At the end of this project, I felt a sense of accomplishment among the other interns on the team as we presented our final resource guide to our supervisor.
My summer at College Forward has helped me guide my professional goals and give me an insight into my future career. I know now more than ever that I want to work in an environment where I can help students and my experiences at College Forward have helped solidify that decision.
I would like to thank Melissa Aleman and her fellow Program Managers, Rachel Van Middlesworth and Ashley An along with everybody at College Forward for an enriching experience this summer.