Nicolle Vittini Cabral ’19

KIPP DC Schools, Washington, DC

Nicolle poses at “Staff Kickoff Event" in Washington, DC as a point person for questions.
Nicolle poses at “Staff Kickoff Event” in Washington, DC as a point person for questions.

This summer I had the opportunity to work at KIPP DC, with a talented team as the recruitment intern. During my eight weeks at KIPP, the purpose of my role was to help improve the recruitment process of the recruitment team for the upcoming school year. Different than some of the KIPP networks, I was not based at a school. I worked at the KIPP DC Headquarters Office, located in the Watergate Office Building. From time to time, I had the opportunity to visit different school campuses if I was volunteering at different events during the end of the school year, shadowing interviews with members of the recruitment team, or helping out in one way or another during the professional development week to launch the start of the new school year in July.

Before working at KIPP, I was vaguely familiar with the organization, as it is one of the leading charter management organizations in the country. As I researched KIPP DC during the interview process, I learned of the importance of the role that KIPP DC plays in the District of Columbia. In DC, there is almost a 50/50 split among students enrolled in public schools vs. charter schools. 40% of the students enrolled at a charter school in DC are enrolled at a KIPP DC school.

During my first four weeks at KIPP DC, I researched and prepared materials, so that the recruitment associate hired at the end of my internship would be able to dive right into the recruitment cycle without as much of a learning curve as they may have had otherwise. I learned to use Excel because many of my projects were turned in as spreadsheets. I did data analysis on the success and impact of referrals on the hiring process and tracked how well and how close the recruitment team was to achieving the goals they set for the 2018-2019 recruitment cycle. I used the resources available to me online via the KIPP network in order to create a draft of recruitment team events that would increase brand awareness for KIPP DC in the area. My last research intensive project was to create a resource sheet that listed all of the charter schools and DCPS schools in the areas that serve similar student demographics: primarily African-American low-income students. In addition to looking at student demographics I also looked at a school’s standardized testing scores. The second part of this project was a list of teacher pipeline programs present in major cities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. As a document, this resource is meant to help the recruitment team vet candidates during the interview process.

The second half of my internship was used to plan, host, and present information on focus groups. During the week of professional development, which launched the 2018-2019 school year, I hosted five different focus groups in order to figure out what attracts new teachers to KIPP DC and what about KIPP DC makes returning teachers want to stay at KIPP DC after their first year with the organization. After hosting the focus groups, I had to transcribe them, and present my findings to the rest of the recruitment team as well as the Chief Academic Officer at KIPP DC. Ultimately, both new candidates to KIPP DC and returning teachers feel wanted and appreciated by the organization in ways they have not been at others, which is why the opt to accept offers and return.

In my short eight weeks at KIPP DC, while I was not in the classroom, I found that I was able to relate to the sentiments of the teachers. As an intern at KIPP DC, I felt wanted. I felt appreciated. I felt seen and heard. I was allowed to sit in on meetings with the rest of the recruitment team, and I was often included in discussion—my input was valued. I was not just given busy work or administrative tasks. Everyone at KIPP DC was very friendly, and was willing to make themselves available to others, including 
interns. My supervisor was invested not only in my success at KIPP DC, but also in my professional development so that I am a more competitive candidate for my interviews for fulltime positions in 
the fall.

In terms of intern programming, every week my intern cohort would have the opportunity to sit in on “informational interviews” with the directors of the various departments in the organization. They were 30-45 minute sessions in which the directors would share their stories of how they ended up at KIPP and often times other personal stories. Afterwards, they would be open to answering questions from the interns. I really enjoyed the information interviews because they provided a space for interns to have access to people higher up in the organization, which would not have been possible at other organizations. As interns, we were also invited to all Headquarters events; my favorite was the trip to Nationals Park, where we watched a baseball game between the Nationals and the Orioles.

Prior to working at KIPP DC, I had the opportunity to work with a non-profit organization that focuses on training pre-service teachers before they graduated college to expose them to careers in teaching. After working there for two consecutive summers, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to pursue a career in teaching because I did not want to feel “trapped.” I wasn’t sure about other ways to stay involved in education outside of the classroom. My time at the KIPP DC Headquarters proved differently. However, I’ve come to realize that in order to be taken seriously in the world of education, it is recommended to have spent time teaching before trying to seek opportunities outside of the classroom. It is really difficult to try to advise on what one thinks are the needs of teachers and students, particularly in urban environments, if one has not been in the classroom as a teacher beforehand.

I find that in addition to the exposure to the different roles within the organization, the research I had to do, specifically on teacher pipelines was useful for me moving forward because if I decide to pursue a full-time job in teaching, I now know of different programs in different cities. I also know that if I decide to move to DC, I now have access to the KIPP DC network in securing a job whether that is in education or in another industry because having “KIPP DC” on my resume holds a lot of weight in DC.

I can honestly say that this has been my favorite internship to date and the best summer yet. I would like to thank the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and Mr. Jeffrey C. Hines ’77 for this opportunity. Without your generosity, I would not have been able to have this experience.