Meet iCouldBe’s Summer Interns!

This past April iCouldBe was selected to host two high school interns who applied to the AIME Summer Internship Program in California. For this internship program students applied, were interviewed and the students accepted earned scholarships and course credits for their efforts. For six weeks interns Rachel and Ahmed joined our team to focus on mentor recruitment, social media and a full curricular revision. From the start it was our intention to involve Rachel and Ahmed in the organizations’ most rigorous projects and to avoid assigning them basic administrative duties. To their great credit, Ahmed and Rachel did not disappoint! Their work ethic, communications and networking skills surpassed our expectations and their work was of the highest quality and a tremendous help. We feel so fortunate for their service to iCouldBe and wish them success as they enter their senior year in high school. We know they will both go on to do great things for many years to come.

Meet Rachel

My Internship Experience:

Hi, my name is Rachel and I am a rising senior in high school. I was looking for an internship opportunity for the summer and saw that my high school was offering business opportunities. So I went through the application and interview process and was accepted into the program. Then I was matched with iCouldBe through the program because they saw my interests included networking and communicating with people.

Through my internship at iCouldBe, I was able to learn more about the mentor/mentee relationship and why it’s important to have one. Because iCouldBe is located on the other side of the country for me, I have been working at home, contacting the staff through emails and calls. Although I have been working remotely, there are many advantages and flexibility that comes with this privilege.

This internship experience was meaningful because I was able to learn more about myself and I was also able to gain work experience inside a company. I was able to work on skills like collaboration and communication as I still had to work with other people despite being remote. There were multiple tasks where my partner and I had to rely on each other for information and data. I have had a great time interning for iCouldBe, whether it has been going through the iCouldBe curriculum, attending webinars, or analyzing survey results.

Why iCouldBe Matters:

iCouldBe is a program that not only emphasizes mentor and mentee relationships, but also aids in planning students’ futures. It’s a program that I would recommend for all high schools, because all students can benefit from the service that it provides. At my high school, everyone graduates and goes to college, but often we are confused with our goals and plans for the future. iCouldBe is an outlet that can help students find their passions and dreams. There are also helpful tips like writing cover letters and building resumes. I believe that it would benefit everyone and help create a stronger base for a successful career and life!

Meet Ahmed

My Internship Experience:

Hello, my name is Ahmed and I am interning with iCouldBe.org. The experience from this internship has been amazing. From the beginning, I had the chance to further develop my soft skills and other skills that I’ll need for any job. Reaching out for support, communication and collaboration have been the most important things throughout this internship.

The most important factor of this internship was that I was treated as an adult, not just an intern. Everyone at iCouldBe cared about my opinion and reviewed my feedback which made me feel like I am working with professionals and not only adults who are trying to make interns work. It was my pleasure working with such professional people that made me feel that I can be important and can create change anywhere I go. Thank you iCouldBe staff.

Why iCouldBe Matters:

Mentoring in high schools is the most needed thing right now. High school teaches us a lot of things but not about our future. A mentoring program in every school would be able to help students be independent in life after school. We need mentoring programs like iCouldBe.

I think that my school needs a program like iCouldBe because there are not enough counselors in the school to help everyone. With iCouldBe, students would have the opportunity to learn about interests and hobbies. The fear of failure after high school is dangerous and mentoring is the way to get past that fear.

iCouldBe can help with much more. I know top students who have the grades, but they don’t know what they want to do after high school. Really smart students are lost in all the choices after graduation. iCouldBe helps improve perspective and thoughts about life after high school.

Thank Your Mentor Day: California Teacher Thanks icouldbe Mentors

On behalf of Hoover High School’s Academy of Information Technology (AOIT), I would like to wish all of the mentors in the icouldbe program a happy National Mentoring Month, and extend our thanks for all the time you put in helping our students. Our Academy has been part of the icouldbe program for over five years, and each year we have had 80-100 students participate in the program. As a College and Career Technical Educator, the icouldbe program has been instrumental in helping me to ensure that my students have a solid background in what it takes to choose, prepare for, and be successful in a career. The icouldbe curriculum has helped open doors for my students to view the larger world outside of their immediate community. The activities they complete have the greatest benefits in the areas of  communication, research, and planning.

Only a small percentage of my students are native English speakers. Most are currently English Learners, and many others are reclassified as English proficient. This makes communication, both verbal and written, a challenge. icouldbe offers these students a way to work on their language skills, especially learning to move from a casual language register to a more professional one. Likewise, students are able to improve both their academic and professional vocabulary which eventually helps them both in resume writing and in interviewing skills. The online and anonymous nature of the mentoring program helps these students to get comfortable quickly as they are less likely to feel they are being judged or put on the spot when they are not face to face with someone they do not know. This often helps the mentees build a better working relationship with their mentors more quickly.

Besides being non-native English speakers, the majority of my students are likely to be the first person in their families to go to college.  Having no experience in their families to draw on makes the varied experiences and stories of the mentors extremely valuable.  In addition, the goal setting activities, college research tools, and planning guides provided in the curriculum help to make the decision to go to college more real for the students.  Further, there are excellent tools for exploring and preparing for careers.  One of the beginning skills that the students often have not previously completed is resume writing.  They all start out with a very basic template to complete the exercise.  Over the course of the year, they take these barebones resumes and learn to add “power” words and language to them to make them better.  Many students begin to take up volunteer opportunities to add to the experience sections on their resumes as they learn how important this can be.

Mentors, although I know working online as opposed to working face to face has some distinct advantages, I also wish you could personally see the difference you make in many of these students’ lives.  You may not see it in their writing, but I have all the students complete an oral “exit interview” about their icouldbe experience.  The last question I ask each of them is what they would say to you if they met you face to face, and they invariably want to thank you for taking some time out of your lives to work with them.  I would like to thank you as well.

-Bryan Voeltner, Hoover High School in San Diego, California

Photo Credit: Ben Fredericson on Flickr's Creative Commons
Photo Credit: Ben Fredericson on Flickr’s Creative Commons

Bryan Voeltner is a teacher at Hoover High School in San Diego, California. He has worked there for 18 years and helped to found its small learning community, the Academy of Information Technology.

National Mentoring Month Spotlight: Bronx Teacher Shares icouldbe Experience

MS 254 in Bronx, New York would like to thank icouldbe for allowing our students to be a part of such an enlightening program for a second year. We have evolved from 30 students participating last year to 175 students participating this year. icouldbe provides an opportunity to empower students to prepare for the challenges of tomorrow. There is not one fix for any student when trying to develop a connection between school and the future accomplishments within an adolescent mind, but icouldbe is the right fit for many students in our program. The students are developing skills that will allow them to make informed decisions about the path their future will take.

Students are reading, writing, and thinking about real life desires and possibilities they used to only associated with others. With the help of icouldbe, the students can now place themselves in those roles. Mentors are explaining how they use math and science as well as language and social studies in their daily lives and in their careers. Based on the conversations students are having with their mentors, the students are developing new ideas.

The mentors are phenomenal! If you are a mentor reading my blog post, let me thank you for giving your time and care to your mentees. I appreciate your answering their posts with feedback that helps them formulate goals that are attainable and make a connection between academics and the student’s chosen path. I was really impressed when one of our mentors reached out with concern about their mentee who had lost interest in posting. I was able to locate the student and discuss her mentor’s concern. Before, she felt like it was just a school commitment, but now she knows how much her mentor truly cares about her, her wellbeing, and her success.

icouldbe helps our students think about their dream and see their dream in order to live it.

-Ms. Frazier, MS 254 in Bronx, New York

Ms. Frazier is an educator from Conway, South Carolina currently teaching in the Bronx. She has 24 years of experience and is a life-long learner.Image

From Kate Schrauth, Executive Director and the icouldbe team

As 2012 comes to a close and the holiday season is upon us, all of us at icouldbe.org want to share out deepest gratitude and thanks for your commitment to icouldbe. This academic year 3,400 students will be served with your care, guidance and support. We couldn’t do this important work without you – supporters, board members, teachers, partners, and of course our mentors, who act as a guidance counselors, career and college coaches, cheerleaders, advisors and listeners who are changing the lives of young people all across the country. How can we possibly thank you for all you do? How can we possibly measure the impact you have on all of the mentees? Organizationally we can count the number of mentor-mentee matches and the countless volunteer hours you donate every week, but the real impact lives in our hearts and in the growth of our mentees. Your willingness as mentors to so freely give your time, experience, expertise, support and love is a gift that is impossible to quantify and is the most amazing gift of all.

As we all strive to mend our collective broken hearts over the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook, please know that it is our most sincere belief that every minute we give to our mentees honors all the innocent lives lost from Columbine to Connecticut. It is your generosity that ensures we can and will create a safe community where our children can grow and thrive. Thank you for all you do.

We wish you a very Happy Holiday Season and look forward to continuing to build our wonderful icouldbe community in the years to come.

All Our Best,

Kate Schrauth, Executive Director and the icouldbe team

Thank YOU from icouldbe.org

As we head into Thanksgiving weekend, we thought it would be the perfect time to share what we are thankful for – and we are so thankful for you! We could not do what we do without the support we receive all across the board and we think it is a great time to thank the groups that make icouldbe.org such a success. Thank you to our…

Mentors, for taking the time out of your schedules to mentor and mold the minds of the future workforce.

Mentees, for being so eager to learn, ask questions, and grow with icouldbe.org.

Teachers, for bringing us into your classrooms and providing us with the opportunity to guide your students.

Corporate partners, for choosing to support icouldbe.org and for providing us with mentors from your staff.

Board members, for your guidance and advice as we continue to grow as an organization.

Staff, for going above and beyond every day and making icouldbe.org the best it can be.

A big thank you and happy holidays from all of us at icouldbe.org!

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Photo credit: Paul Downey on Flickr’s Creative Commons

icouldbe.org Mentees Participate in Youth, I.N.C.’s Trading Day for Kids

This year, icouldbe.org partnered with Youth, I.N.C. (Improving Nonprofits for Children) for their annual Trading Day for Kids. Youth, I.N.C., a NYC-based organization, engages with the city’s brightest minds and leaders and connects them to grassroots organizations, like icouldbe.org, that deliver opportunities to our most vulnerable children. On October 25th, Youth, I.N.C.’s business partner, Canaccord Genuity,  pledged to donate 100% of the day’s commission proceeds to Youth, I.N.C. and its non-profit network. Not only did the event raise $950,000, but top executives from Canaccord Genuity sat down to discuss financial careers with student participants.

ImageIn addition to Trading Day for Kids, which took place on October 25, Canaccord Genuity also hosted a “Mentor Day” on Tuesday, October 23. Thirty high school students, including five icouldbe.org mentees, spent the day at the firm learning about the financial services industry. Students had the opportunity to sit down with a panel of representatives from different divisions within the company as well as senior executives from the firm. This format enabled students to engage in thoughtful conversation with the firm’s professionals and also provided a snapshot of a career in finance and what the company’s day-to-day activities looked like.

The students were given some topics to think about in the days leading up to the event, which led to thought provoking conversation between the students and the company’s financial professionals. Topics discussed included:

  • Stocks the students thought had value and why
  • The US economy and where it is headed
  • The 2012 Presidential election
  • 2013 stock market predictions

Trading Day raised over $950,000 for grassroots non-profit organizations in NYC, but beyond that it provided a once in a lifetime experience for our mentees. We are proud to have partnered with such a great organization that does so much good in our city.

Oh, and did we mention that our mentees got to ring the closing bell at NASDAQ at the end of Trading Day? All in all, we all had an unforgettable experience.

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This ‘Thank You’ means the most of all

During the 2011-2012 school year, there were a few classrooms of students that went above and beyond with their work in the icouldbe.org curriculum.

Below is a photo of one of these classrooms. These students on average completed over 26 activities in the curriculum, and truly showed dedication and hard work to complete the units, work with their mentors and get the most out of the program. We absolutely love to see these students take advantage of what icouldbe.org has to offer!

Here’s what one mentee had to say about his work with the program:

“The online mentoring program icouldbe.org has been a great help to me because all the units have shown me something I didn’t know. I especially learned from the unit that deals with money. This unit showed me how loans work and how to manage a credit card if I even choose to get one. My mentor was a great help in giving me advice and establishing my future goals. icouldbe.org is a well rounded online mentoring program that I enjoyed being a part of.” 

We decided to thank this classroom of students with a celebratory pizza party – and here’s how they thanked their mentors and icouldbe.org in return!

There’s nothing like a giant Thank You to help you remember that these students are the reason we do what we do. (And there’s nothing like a good slice of pizza, either.)

Volunteer Week is here!

It’s one of our favorite times of the year – National Volunteer Week! This is a weeklong celebration when organizations all over the country thank the volunteers that are the very lifeblood of their cause. At icouldbe.org, that means taking a moment to thank our mentors.

It’s so exciting to have mentors volunteer from such a diverse collection of careers and industries – to be able to provide students with this expertise and advice is invaluable! Because of you, students all over the country are getting the support they need and deserve to be successful high school graduates and to see a new future that is full of possibilities.

So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU icouldbe.org mentors!

You may remember back during January, we set a goal to recruit 500 new mentors. Happily, we’re very close to reaching the goal – we only need 50 more mentors (give or take) to sign up!

If you’re an icouldbe.org mentor, would you spread the word to your friends and coworkers who may be looking for a convenient – and rewarding – way to give back to today’s youth? And if you’re not – well, what are you waiting for?

Happy Volunteer Week!

Thank your Mentor Day!

Today, January 26, 2012, is National Thank your Mentor Day! It seemed like a great time to turn to the students in the icouldbe.org program and find out what they have to say to their mentors.

Below is a selection of letters from mentees to their mentor in honor of Mentoring Month and Thank your Mentor Day. Their responses are truly touching and remind us that they are the reason we celebrate this month.

How are you thanking your mentor today?

A wordcloud of the letters from icouldbe.org mentees.

Dear leftyonly:

Thanks for everything you have taught until now.  You have given great evidence to me that I greatly accept.  With your help, I know that I can reach my job interest.  With you, I will be able to excel like you did.  I can’t show enough gratitude that I have because of your information.  I know that because of you I am prepared.

Your mentee, Junior 704

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Dear Team2win and Ms. Maria:

I thank you for mentoring me, and teaching me new things that I needed to know.  You taught me the ways I need to go to achieve my goals. Thank you for taking your time to mentor me. It is because of you that I know what jobs I want to do when I get older.  Having a mentor is good for me because they show me the way to go.

Nashare704

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Dear Mentor:

Thank you for being my mentor.  I would like you to write to me.  If we talked, I would answer all your emails and I will ask you a few questions.  Any advice you will give me I will try to achieve it. I would like to be an artist or dancer.  I could see by looking at your profile that you could give me good advice.

Kayla704

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Dear volunteer9:

I would like to thank you for your assistance.  I thank you for commenting on my work and telling me how I could do better.  Please help me get into Princeton, Harvard or Yale, similar to what you did for college.  Could you please email me things that could be further help to me?  Thank you for your time.

Marino 704

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erdoc11,

I really appreciate having a fantastic mentor like you! A student, especially during their junior and senior year, cherishes having someone to guide them throughout school. Your advice and advocacy has undeniably helped make decisions towards my future. One of the great aspects of having you as a mentor is that I have also became a more ecstatic and optimistic person. I am undeniably looking forward to having you as a mentor during my senior year as well.

With much gratitude,

Soyunhorcrux

—–

Dear Mentor,

Thank you so much! You have been a GREAT person to me and of much help!

Recently you told me that I should research things about documentaries in history and I think that a great idea. I’m wondering, how did you find out about this website? But yeah, this has been a great experience so far. I find it really gnarly that some people care about students and help them achieve what they want in life. I think it is also cool that you take time off your day and do this! So I hope you and your family and friends are doing great, and have a good day – and week – and month!

Sincerely, basedgod.

—–

Dear Mentor,

The purpose of this email is to thank you for being my mentor. I want to let you know that I really appreciate what you do for me because not many people take time to do what you do. I’m glad to have a mentor like you, because with your help more doors to opportunities are going to open for me and for that I thank you.

Sincerely, Chris

—–

I really appreciate you taking the time to review my work. It is very helpful and I really enjoy your feedback. Thank you so much for all your help, I believe that the information you provide will help me become a better person. Hope you’re having a good day!

—–

Hey, I just wanted to say thank you so much for taking your own time to be my mentor. I have really learned a lot and you have encouraged me to go into what I really want even more. I have learned a lot about what it takes to go into medicine and I am very grateful for that. I hope you could keep being my mentor and keep giving me great advice. Thanks a lot. 🙂

—–

Thank you for being such a great mentor, I really appreciate all the help and advice you’ve given me, it’s been a lot of help.  I want to say thanks for always reviewing my work so fast! I have a really good grade thanks to the fact that you review my work fast so I can move on. I’m really thankful for you, and I hope we can keep our relationship growing bigger and bigger.

Happy national mentor month!

Sincerely, liz25

—–

Happy National Mentor Month!!

I just wanted to say thank you for all your support and advice. You’ve really helped me think about my future and what I want to do with it. Thank you for helping me understand what I’m doing wrong or what I’m not doing to prepare myself for college. I really appreciate it and don’t know what I would have done without having questions answered, talk to you soon.

— Jess9

Mentor Spotlight: Matthew H.

It is my goal to inspire, encourage, and guide young men and women towards the future they want for themselves, regardless of where they come from. I love reading about what gets my mentee excited, it helps me gently guide them towards their passion, or even help them discover they have a passion. The feeling I get when I know I’ve genuinely helped a mentee (or anybody for that matter) really helps me appreciate my own life even more. Watching a timid, unsure young person grow to make firm, confident decisions is rewarding beyond words. It’s a feeling that every human should experience; if you aren’t helping someone now, what’s holding you back?

Thanks for this opportunity, getting involved with this program was not about recognition, it was an attempt to better myself through the action of helping others. Thanks again, for this amazing program!