In our next Intern Personal, we hear from Rachel Qiu! Like Salma, whose story you read about earlier this summer, Rachel was also a 2018 recipient of a special Meringoff Family Foundation scholarship, thanks to the generosity of PENCIL supporter, Stephen J. Meringoff. The Meringoff Family Foundation makes hands-on philanthropic investments in nonprofits that are working to level the playing field for young New Yorkers, and this scholarship was awarded to a small group of exceptional PENCIL students, like Rachel, to acknowledge their significant academic and extracurricular achievements. Beginning her third year with PENCIL, Rachel speaks to the ways that her internships have helped her build confidence and identify careers that best suit her interests. Her positions came about because she was a student in our PENCIL Internship Program as part of the Ladders for Leaders Program in partnership with the NYC Department of Youth & Community. You can read about how PENCIL has helped Rachel, as well as her winning scholarship essay below. Thank you for sharing, Rachel!
Name: Rachel Qiu
Year: College sophomore
School: New York University
What are your thoughts for your future career?
I want to pursue a career in finance and economics.
How has PENCIL helped you think about your future opportunities?
This year marks my third year with PENCIL. I started my journey with PENCIL as a high school junior. Every year, PENCIL has helped me find an internship that catered to my career interest. Last year, I was a Math Content Development Intern at the College Board. My passion for math flourished during my time at the College Board and it has made me realize that, although I am interested in education, I also want to pursue finance and business. Therefore, this year I am in a rotational internship at Empire BlueCross BlueShield. I will be able to rotate through the different departments, from marketing to underwriting, and get a feel of what each field of business is about.
PENCIL has made me more confident not only as a professional, but also as an individual. I was able to apply what I learned in PENCIL’S training and resume workshops to my past and current internships. For future opportunities, I am positive that the social networking skills I’ve gained through PENCIL will help me achieve my long-term career goals.
Read Rachel’s winning scholarship essay below:
I was sitting in my air-conditioned third grade classroom with twenty other students like me: English-language learners. I had just arrived at United States that year and I did not know a single word in English. Yet, I sat in my seat comfortably and confidently taking my first NYS standardized math test. It was in Chinese. I felt how fortunate I was to be able to take the test in my native language. Simultaneously, I developed a passion for math. Math is universal. For me, it was easier to confront numbers than the unfamiliar alphabets.
When I first joined the College Board as a Math Content Development Intern, I was ecstatic. As the founder of my book blog, “A Reader’s Delight” and an aspiring author, I hope to learn more about content development and the publishing world. Through the first two weeks, I found another world in College Board: SpringBoard. SpringBoard develops both Mathematics and English Language textbooks for students and teachers around the country. It strives to improve the quality of the content daily. I took on a long-term project to help improve the math content for the new textbook new edition release.
My goal during this internship is to expand knowledge in content development through the creation of assessments for the new Math Textbook National New edition. I chose this goal because it connects to what I value: helping students achieve higher education. I will accomplish this goal by the end of my internship (6 weeks). Through a series of assignments my supervisor Alison set for me, I will gain knowledge about SpringBoard and will be prepared to create my own mathematics content.
My first assignment was to organize a spreadsheet that counts the instructional days of the SpringBoard Mathematics courses. While this assignment may seem tedious and small, it taught me to develop a meticulous work ethic. A small task does not mean it will not have a great impact. By taking the time to peruse the books and create a data analysis to accompany it, I learned more about SpringBoard. For example, I was happy that the new version of the SpringBoard textbooks will contain a feature called Spanish Cognates. This feature is meant to help English language learners, similar to the Chinese translations in my 3rd grade state test.
In addition, Alison encouraged me to join the Editor Sync, 45-minute team meeting to discuss upcoming projects, every Wednesday. I found Editor Sync a catalyst in helping me develop time management skills. I was able to plan ahead knowing my team’s expectations. Familiarizing with SpringBoard content through data manipulations and meetings is a big step forward in achieving my goal.
My next project is familiarizing with Florida edition. While I am primarily responsible for the national edition, the newly developed Florida textbook will be a catalyst in knowing what to improve and to revise. Through using spreadsheet-based data manipulation, I put together a list of all the features in the Florida Edition. As a result, I naturally enhanced my organization skills.
For the past two weeks, I simultaneously balanced smaller assignments with my long-term assignment: context development for Embedded Assessment (EA), an integral part of SpringBoard. EA assesses students after units to ensure their understanding. My progress is measured in the assignment log. I created 2 full math assessments with over a dozen math problems for middle school students. It will not only fit the nationwide common core standards but also ensure the context is up to date with the modern day. This assignment aligns with my goal in creating improved and unique context for students. To be able to combine the two thing I love: math and publishing is an exciting internship experience. My supervisor is also a positive influence in achieving my goal. For example, my assessments and projects are filled with her constructive criticism and feedback. We met daily in team rooms to discuss our goals. She explained that College Board also has an initiative called competencies. Employees are required to outline Performance Measures (goals) and are also responsible for rating themselves on at least two of the competencies using a rubric. During a mid- or full-year review, there will be conversations with managers to delve into those ratings and weakness. I found this requirement very similar with what I do with Smart Goals and self-reflection. It also made me realize how important it is to have a sense of purpose in the workforce.
I hope to graduate college with a business degree. As a first generation, low income college student, my dream is to start a nonprofit organization that will help high school seniors with SAT prep, scholarship search and college essay. Having experience in a nonprofit will be a unique introduction to the business world.
Along the way of accomplishing my goal, I gain a foundation of knowledge. Through Editor Sync and meetings, I developed time management skills. Through data manipulation, I enhanced my organizational skills. Through SMART Goals, I developed a sense of purpose as well as professionalism. Most importantly, I know I will leave the internship with an unforgettable experience. Knowing that millions of students will use Springboard textbooks that I assisted with to further their education is already satisfying enough.