The newest and most exciting feature of Students for Justice’s evolving curriculum is the Team Manager Program. This program provides a pathway to promotion for star interns and effectively taps into one of the most valuable resources we have – our dedicated volunteer mentors.
This fall, our interns worked in teams of four, each led by a Team Manager, to create paid social media ads to persuade people to vote in Virginia’s statewide election. We recruited our eight Team Managers for the role based on their outstanding performance in our spring session. They guided their teams through the process of finalizing an ad and helped them to navigate the challenges of the internship more generally.
To learn the leadership skills necessary to manage peers, these Team Managers were enrolled in a special leadership curriculum run by two remarkable volunteers: Abby Jennis, who most recently served as Associate General Counsel of the City University of New York, and Phil Meeks, who recently retired from his role as Executive Vice President and President of Spectrum Business Enterprise at Charter Communications. The Team Managers met with Abby and Phil weekly in a group to discuss the challenges of leadership, including how to run an effective meeting and how to deal with struggling team members. They also each met regularly with either Abby or Phil for one-on-one coaching.
The Team Managers got a tremendous amount out of this experience. They have told us that it was hard at first to exercise authority within a group of people the same age as them, but that with support from Abby and Phil they developed the confidence to lead. They also learned to set agendas for meetings and stick to them, and to facilitate discussions so that all voices are heard. They grew personally and professionally over the course of the session, and now feel ready to take on new leadership challenges. [Watch the video above to hear more!]
As we look ahead to 2022, we hope to extend and expand this program. If we secure sufficient funding, we will enroll eight Team Managers in the summer session and 16 in the fall as part of our larger goal of having 120 interns total in 2022. We are currently one third of the way to that fundraising goal.