Royster lawton Fellow maggie Hirshland reflects on her summer internship experience
I’m Maggie Hirshland, a rising 4th year double majoring in Youth & Social Innovation in the Curry School of Education & Human Development, and Public Policy & Leadership in Batten. I’m interested in pursuing a career in the Education Policy field, however when I was starting my internship search last school year, I was not sure what that would look like for a summer internship. I was considering a plethora of related yet distinct paths and options, ranging from government internships, to schools, to non-profits/NGOs, and looking at organizations with a variety of focus areas, such as youth, education, policy, community development, and affordable housing. With all of these options comes the need to make a lot of decisions, which felt overwhelming at times, especially since the public service field can be difficult to navigate, without any streamlined processes.
The Royster Lawton Program provided indispensable mentorship, guidance, and support throughout this search. The Social Entrepreneurship staff’s vast experience and knowledge of the social entrepreneurship field helped inform recommendations and advice on where to look and apply. With multiple advising sessions, I was able to talk through and map out my academic and extracurricular interests, and translate them into different organizations and position openings. One of the positions I was most excited about was at the XQ Institute, a non-profit dedicated to engaging communities to rethink high school. This organization matched my interests perfectly, being in Batten and Curry this was a perfect combination of education and policy, but I was initially hesitant to apply, considering it was based in Oakland, CA, and far from UVA and home (which is Boston, MA for me). However, with the guidance and encouragement of the SE staff, I had the necessary confidence and assurance to apply, and ultimately make the move out to Oakland for the summer.
I’m so thankful I did decide to apply, and had the opportunity to intern at XQ. I’m so inspired by all of the work XQ and its partners are undertaking, as well as by everyone I had the pleasure of working with this past summer. XQ’s mission is to fuel America’s collective creativity to transform high school so every student succeeds, and since their launch in 2015 they have partnered with schools across the country to support and inspire efforts to rethink high school. Their work includes building capacity and momentum in schools and communities, advocating for policy change, and creating open-source resources to make schools fit for the 21st century. As the Strategy and Engagement Intern, I supported the development of school profiles, researching local and state context & policy, school design, and school leadership, as well as expanded the team’s network of community based organizations to strategize future outreach. I was also able to attend XQ’s annual conference, where hundreds of our partner schools and districts sent staff, teachers, administrators, students, and parents. I’m beyond grateful for this chance to learn from and talk to innovative educators across the country, and will carry with me their passion and lessons for effective school reform. Through my experience this summer, I have affirmed my desire to pursue a career in Education Policy, and have received more clarity on the different ways to make an impact in this field, as well as gained confidence in the path I hope to take.
I’m looking forward to continuing my involvement with the Royster Lawton program and Social Entrepreneurship team at UVA this upcoming year and beyond, and am excited to receive their continued support as I begin to consider my post-grad endeavors. I am thrilled to be a part of this ever growing network, filled with dedicated and passionate individuals, and I am looking forward to seeing the work my cohort peers pursue!