2015 Week 3 – Nathan Franklin and Leah McCormick

My past job experience has been limited, mostly working as a camp counselor or lifeguard, with this summer representing what some might call my first “real” job. Signing up for the TI Fellowship, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and because of my lack of past work experience, I assumed it would be similar to school.

School classes, after so many years, have become predictable: New classes mean new syllabi detailing grade policies, due dates, and what I will learn. A routine develops of listening to lectures, practicing with homework, and reciting that information on tests or essays to receive a grade.

What I’ve found however through my TI Fellowship job experience has been completely different from school and from past jobs.

For starters, there was no syllabus on the first day of work detailing my job or goals for the summer; I’ve had to adjust to a less structured environment, where it’s up to me to know when a project is done, or what direction to head in next. Instead of relying on teachers to validate me with grades, I must be able to grade myself. So far, this experience has given me more confidence in my work and forced me to think outside the box. The goals of what I should be learning, unlike school, aren’t 100% obvious, but that is what makes the job interesting.

The Fellowship has brought a group of 20 of us together from all over the country, and has even helped me make some Jewish connections in my workplace. It just so happened that the day I started my internship, another young Jewish individual from New York started a summer internship at my office as well. On the same day, another Jewish kid from Boston who had done Teach for America in Memphis started a full time job at my workplace. Meeting these people and getting to know them both inside and outside of the workplace has been an experience I owe all to the Fellowship.

So far this summer has helped me grow as a person, exposing me to new people through our program and through work, new experiences, and new places in Memphis. Last week we visited the Church Health Center, a facility that I think embodies everything the Fellowship wants us to learn. The Church Health Center was started by a man who moved to Memphis with a dream to make a difference in the community, and he has done so. I think all the fellows, after completion of the Fellowship Program, will be more ready to make a difference in our communities.

– Nathan Franklin


I applied to the TI Fellowship on a whim after hearing about the program from a family member.  Even though I’m not a Memphis native I had spent some time in the area, so when I was accepted and made the commitment to come I wasn’t that nervous.  I wasn’t expecting to be living in an unfamiliar city with unfamiliar people.  However, that’s exactly what happened.  It turns out that downtown Memphis is pretty different than the quiet suburbs I had visited with family each summer as a JCC camp kid.  It also turned out that I knew only one other person in the TI group.  “Nervous” was actually an understatement.  However, with the first weeks of the summer experience behind me, I can finally say that the nerves have faded and I have become a little more acquainted with downtown Memphis.

It helps that I love love love my job.  I work at Bridge Builders, which I quickly found out is a pretty popular program in the Memphis area.  The nonprofit’s lofty goal is to create unity among diverse groups of people in order to better the community.  I am a conference facilitator, so while my hours are long, I get the hands on experience of watching young students grow and mature as teammates and friends in just weeklong sessions.   I have spent the past four weeks in training and conferences that have shown me what Memphis means to so many people.

Bridge Builders

Bridge Builders

I am thankful to the TI Fellowship for giving me this wonderful opportunity to experience a new city, meet other “YJPs”, and work in such a rewarding place.  I have truly enjoyed getting to know an area I thought I knew enough about, getting to know people I would not have spoken with otherwise, and working in an environment where I feel like I’m actually making a positive impact.

Hanging Out at the Levitt Shell

Hanging Out at the Levitt Shell

– Leah McCormick

Post Comment