When I found the Future Leaders in Action fellowship, I eagerly applied because I had finally found a paid opportunity that fit my timeline and aligned with my career goals. Once I was officially accepted as a fellow, my excitement turned into fear. I became worried that I wouldn’t be able to balance school and work, or that I wouldn’t develop the high quality outcomes I desired. The organization I was partnered with, Fiver Children’s Foundation set a goal for me to complete 40 youth programs in a 3 month period. In my mind, I’m thinking “How!?” Although I do have experience with creating lesson plans, I had never been in charge of completing an entire curriculum package. I spent the days leading up to my fellowship researching methods for developing a sustainable program. I’m sure you’ve heard the Ben Franklin quote, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Needless to say, I didn’t want that to be me.
I had finally found a paid opportunity that fit my timeline and aligned with my career goals.
Upon my arrival at Fiver, I dove right into my work. I was determined to complete as many new programs as I could. My focus wasn’t just on the number of activities, but also the quality and uniqueness of them. Implementing mindfulness was one way I accomplished this goal. I wanted to bring a new form of social-emotional learning to the Fiver community, and I think this was a fun way to do it. By the end of the first month, I completed 15 new programs. I was on a roll!
I experienced a couple of challenges during the second month. I was continuing to hit my goal of completing 4 new programs per week, but my brain was becoming fried in the process. Burn-out is real! At first, I kept cranking out new material even though I was crying on the inside. Then I realized I needed to make a change soon, or I wouldn’t make it to the end of the fellowship. Instead of continuing to develop completely new programs, I decided to merge, adjust, and add to previously created programs. This allowed me to be more efficient with my time and prevented duplicate programs from being created. I also decided to meet with the program supervisors who facilitate the activities more often to brainstorm ideas. I truly believe in the power of collaboration. In many cases, five minds working together can accomplish more than one mind working alone. I wanted bring new lenses to rest of the programs I created.
I also wanted the other team members to know that their skills and opinions matter.
My FLIA experience revealed some new things about me and confirmed other things I kinda knew. I didn’t realize I was such a self-starter. My supervisor for the fellowship worked remotely, so I had to push myself to get work done. I also worked remotely some days which was new for me. Working remotely can be good or bad depending on the person. It took a lot of discipline for me to get up and actually do work. But now I know I can totally do it! The thing this fellowship confirmed for me is that my task management skills are subpar. By the end of the program, I did figure out new ways to keep track of my many daily tasks, but it took time and intentional effort.
As the fellowship is coming to a close, I am becoming more excited about my future journey. I believe Future Leaders in Action gave me relevant knowledge that will help me make an impact in the social sector. I honed my facilitation skills and managed a project from start to finish. Most importantly, I created meaningful content that will influence students for years to come. Stumbling across this fellowship was the best thing that could’ve happened to me at this point in my career and life. I am so thankful for all of the support I received and for the life-long connection I will have with the Fiver and FLIA community.