Century High School student describes first summer job experience

Century High School student describes first summer job experience
Janice Onigbinde, a rising senior at Century High School, is shown volunteering at the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C. as part of the Bank of America Student Leader Summit.

Janice Onigbinde, a Sykesville resident and a rising senior at Century High School, has been spending the summer as an intern for Teach for America, a nonprofit with the mission to "enlist, develop and mobilize" leaders to "strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence," according to the organization's website.

Onigbinde is also the founder of her own nonprofit organization, Hope 4 Tomorrow, Inc., which has the mission of providing support to impoverished youth in the community and in developing nations. She is one of five high school students from the Baltimore area who received paid eight-week internships at local nonprofits as part of the Bank of America's annual Student Leaders program. Students traveled to Washington, D.C. for a national student leadership summit as part of the program.


The internship began June 23 and, depending on how long it takes Onigbinde to complete her hours, it is expected to end Aug. 17, she said.

The Carroll County Times caught up with Onigbinde to learn about her first summer job experience.

Q: How did you learn about the opportunity? What prompted you to apply?

A: Applying for this opportunity through the Bank of America Student Leaders program was not planned at all for me. I was searching for scholarships and stumbled across it. After reading the description about how it was for students who are dedicated to serving in the community and who take on leadership roles, I knew that this would be a great fit for me if I got accepted. The fact that I would receive a paid internship was a bonus!

Q: Have you ever held a summer job?

A: No; my internship at Teach for America is the first job I've held. I feel blessed that this is my first job because it's a competitive program that many apply for, and it's has been a wonderful learning experience so far — no complaint, which is great because usually your first job isn't always the best experience. I feel privileged to be able to work with an amazing group of people and experience what it's like to work in an office as well as see how businesses impact the community in different ways.

Q: What have you learned from the experience so far?

A: Working at Teach For America has improved my communication skills. I work on the alumni affairs team, so I do a lot of social media updating, as well as communicating with our fellow staff about upcoming events, updating their employee records and more. I've been provided with many opportunities to improve in this area, which is great.

Q: What type of responsibilities do you have in your internship?

A: Being a part of the alumni affairs team here at TFA, I run reports on employees and update their records, as well as run stats on past and current alumni of Teach For America. I was also given the opportunity to build/revamp the Baltimore alumni website and create a Facebook page to improve communication among TFA alum—which was awesome!

Q: Do you imagine you will apply the skills you've learned in the future?

A: Definitely! Coming into this internship I was kind of shy, and not really great at sharing my ideas, or speaking up if I had something to say, and I feel that working here has made me a more assertive and confident person, which is beneficial to me as a leader.

Q: Has the experience changed your future career plans at all? And, what are your future plans?

Although I've learned a lot at this internship, it hasn't really swayed what path I would like to go down career wise. I still plan on going into the medical field to hopefully pursue pediatric neurology and maybe minor in international relations. Working at this internship did shed light on the fact that I am a more hands-on person, and would rather interact with people rather than work on the computer a majority of my time.


Q: What did you learn at the National Leadership Summit? Was it helpful to learn from other students?

A: The Bank of America Student Leader Summit was an amazing time, and I don't think I'll ever experience anything like it again. I had the privilege to be a part of the group of [more than 200] student leaders who came from all over the country. I met people from all different backgrounds, experiences, and walks of life — the diversity was real. Although we were all so different, our common desire and passion to serve, inspire, and change brought us together, and as cliché as it sounds, we became one big family. I've never met more well-rounded, intelligent, passionate, fun-loving people in my life! It was a once in a life time experience that I'll never forget. I had the opportunity to meet with state representatives on Capitol Hill, and discuss projects that I've been working on in my community and how they can help. I had the chance to speak to a panel of leaders who work in the nonprofit sector (of which Laura Bush was a part) and was inspired by many motivational speakers who came to the summit — this is just a snapshot of all the wonderful experiences I had at this summit. I learned that "if it is to be, it is up to me"—in other words, it's my responsibility to take action and to be the change in my community, rather than wait on others to do so. Other than the amazing hotel food I got to eat during the conference, I will miss the students, my roommate and all the amazing friends I made most of all.