My name is Emma and I was a Peer Leadership Fellow from January 2019 to January 2020. When I first applied to PLF, I had no idea what I was getting into, only that it was 4Front’s newest program and Jeff Snyder and Rabbi Dena Shaffer were looking for 10 teens to be their guinea pigs. Little did I know it would help me build skills I continue to use today.
The goal of the PLF program was to help more teens feel engaged in and connected to the Jewish community, but as a byproduct of that, the other fellows and I got a rare chance to better ourselves and learn skills that would prove invaluable for our futures.
When I began PLF, we knew we were going to be learning about all the different teen programs that greater Baltimore had to offer in order to get our high school peers more involved in the Jewish community. We did this by creating a network of 25 high schoolers to interview and get to know, in order to recommend the best program for them to get involved with. This is easier said than done, as coming up with over 200 different high schoolers between all of the fellows without any repeat names was a tedious process.
Nevertheless the other fellows and I persisted. We received training from Jeff and Adam Smith, founder of the PLF program in Boston, and started our first round of calls and interviews in June 2019. Yes, some of them were awkward at first as I didn’t have much experience talking to people over the phone or in an interview setting, but I was prepared to break the ice and it got easier as I went.
I never could have expected the amount of leadership training we got from both our sessions with Jeff and at the Peer Leadership Fellow Summit that 4Front hosted in Baltimore with the other PLF communities. Learning and socializing with other fellows from Boston, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Rochester was an amazing experience and gave me the confidence I needed to become a leader in our Jewish community.
Now, I am a rising sophomore at Temple University and I’m studying early childhood education. In the spring of my freshman year, a professor recommended me for a job in our Klein College of Media and Communication where I would write profiles on faculty, students, and alumni and the great things they do. A big part of the job is interviewing the subjects and their colleagues in order to get the information to write the story.
I cannot stress enough how much PLF prepared me for this job. Not only did the interviews I did with them help me get more comfortable for the ones I do now, but the logistical skills I learned through PLF have been crucial to my success in my new job. If I didn’t have those 25 interviews a month to schedule and conduct back in high school, there is no way I would be able to do the 30 or 40 a month that I do now. I am incredibly grateful that I gained those skills early because my first few weeks on the job would have been quite difficult without them.
To anyone considering becoming a fellow, I whole-heartedly recommend that you jump at the chance. Everybody wins. The teens you talk to, the organizations you promote, and you learn how to become a better leader and gain skills that will prepare you for anything in the future. You might not see it at the time, but looking back, I know I would not be as ready for more jobs and internships if it wasn’t for PLF.
Applications for the 2021-2022 PLF Internship are open now. Learn more at www.4frontbaltmore.org/plf