2019 Parents Fund Internship Grant Reflections: Blaise Servier

Blaise Servier

Internship Location: Ashoka

Journal Entry #1:

Hi there! My name is Blaise Sevier, and I am a rising 4th year in the Youth & Social Innovations (YSI) Program in the Curry School of Education. This summer I am interning with Ashoka, a global organization that identifies and invests in leading social entrepreneurs -- individuals with innovative and practical ideas for solving social problems. More specifically, I am working on the Ashoka Changemaker’s team.

Ashoka Changemaker is one of many programs at Ashoka. It specifically uses the power of open challenges and social innovation knowledge to accelerate the rate of change. Some of the products that Ashoka Changemakers produces are social entrepreneurial boot camps, online courses, network mapping, and more. This summer I am working to prepare for the several social entrepreneurial boot camps.

One Bootcamp that I am learning more about now is the Emerging Innovators American Express Changemakers Bootcamp. Changemakers Bootcamp is a 2-3 day workshop and training event for new social entrepreneurs. The purpose of the changemakers Bootcamp is to build a community, explore both internal and external ventures, and learn skills (i.e., social entrepreneurial resilience skills) that fellows can use in their own lives. The value of the Changemakers Bootcamp is to prepare Ashoka Fellows, the selected social entrepreneurs, to make a positive, scalable change in their field.

So far, I have had a very positive experience here at Ashoka. Not only have I learned about the scope of my future internship work and how I can apply the skills from my major, but I have also learned about Ashoka’s progressive office structure.

The scope of my internship will be varied, but I know that I will be working under the direction of the Changemaker’s team to push through the current objectives: arrange various changemaker Bootcamps, and maintain partnerships with sponsors. In the first week of my internship, I have applied so many skills from my YSI major. Most notably, I have utilized our Logic Model from the Foundations of Social Innovation core class to work through and illustrate the American Express Emerging Innovators theory of change. Additionally, I have utilized skills learned in Elgin Cleckley's Intro to Design Thinking class ARCH 2070 to design a work plan sketch for a boot camp website.

The structure at Ashoka is unlike any workplace that I have been part of. To start, when you walk into the global office you are greeted with colorful walls, murals, whiteboards, and large inspirational sticky notes. Since Ashoka is in 93 countries around the world, the theme of the office reflects the diversity in style, food, communication and more. Just on my team, I have colleagues from Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Egypt, Austria, and Peru. Sometimes conversations shift from English to Portuguese to Spanish all in the same discussion.

The people at Ashoka are unlike anyone who I have met before. The Ashoka Talent Team (traditionally called an HR department) look for individuals who are empathetic, team-oriented, generous, patient, and very positive.

I am very much looking forward to what is to come with this internship. I have set goals this summer and look forward to continuing to check in with them throughout this journey.

Journal Entry #2: 

This summer, I have had the opportunity to intern at one of the most informing, inclusive and innovative organizations –  Ashoka. This organization has helped me understand many things about myself, how I fit into the workspace, if I am interested in social entrepreneurship as an industry, and what I would like to do in the future.

Throughout the course of this summer, I worked on a variety of assignments and teams. At the beginning of the summer, I worked on developing the content on the Emerging Innovators website.  The 2019 American Express Emerging Innovators Changemakers Bootcamp is a 2-3-day workshop and training event for new social entrepreneurs. This year the AMEX Bootcamp will be held in five cities around the world: Dakar, Madrid, Mexico City, Nairobi, and New York City. The purpose of the Changemakers Bootcamp is to build a community of emerging social entrepreneurs, explore both internal and external ventures, and learn skills (I.e., entrepreneurial resilience) to aid in their entrepreneurial journey. The value of the Changemakers Bootcamp is to envision, enable, and empower emerging social entrepreneurs, as well as, encourage others to make a positive, scalable change in their field.

In order to understand this Bootcamp, I utilized a skill from EDLF 1200 - Examining the Effectiveness of Social Innovation and created a logic model to understand the interworkings of this project. See below for my logic model.

Additionally, during this project, I utilized skills from ARCH 2070 Intro to Design Thinking. I recreated images for the website on Illustrator (a skill that we learned in ARCH 2070) and made the website a lot more relevant and visually appealing.

I worked with the Ashoka design team to ensure that these graphic were aligned with the 2019 Ashoka online brand.

The second project that I worked on this summer was the Ashoka Young Changemakers Conference. At the heart of Ashoka are the Ashoka Young Changemakers: a carefully selected network of young people who have already utilized their abilities to create change in their communities for the good of all, and who are engaging their peers to become changemakers.  For a weekend, I spent more than 24 hours with 10 Ashoka  Young Changemakers and Ashoka Young Changemaker candidates. I utilized the knowledge I learned in Foundation of Community engagement as I engaged with youth and their communities, examined my role in those relationships and interactions, explored the complexities and importance of culture. Additionally, I utilized knowledge from Intro to Adolescence to connect with these teenagers. This project was the most relevant to Youth & Social Innovation core concepts and definitely helped me fulfill my goals this summer. In the future, I could see myself working with the Youth Venture team at Ashoka.

Journal Entry #3: 

The third project that I worked on was the 2019 Changemakers Product Budget and Grant management excel workbook and handbook. Although this project was outside any work that I have ever done before, it was probably the most rewarding as it required the most amount of collaboration and time. In summary, I helped create a budget template that will help align the Changemakers financial system. Altogether it is a 7 sheet workbook and 20+ page handbook. It was quite a mission to complete, but I worked with the finance manager in the Changemakers team to finish this project. Although this project wasn’t in my initial goals this summer, I feel like this process and project was extremely valuable as it helped present the operations side of a non-profit and what it takes to manage a 2 million dollar budget. This project helped me see how social entrepreneurship functions as a system both currently and in the future.

In summary, Ashoka was an ideal place to intern at during this last summer. I have already started having conversations with my bosses to continue working for them during the school year. I foresee a strong connection between YSI and Ashoka in the coming future. I hope to recommend other YSI students to work with Ashoka as it is so similar to Youth & Social Innovation.