From left: Taylor Hoffman, Colleen McGuinness, Maggie Nichols, Glenn Hartman-Mattson, Alex Cates

From left: Taylor Hoffman, Colleen McGuinness, Maggie Nichols, Glenn Hartman-Mattson, Alex Cates

“My name is Colleen McGuinness, and I am a Spring 2015 Alumna working as an intern in the Island School Boston office this summer. I gained a lot from my Island School semester, but what I did not recognize until recently was that the experience was far more than an opportunity to support sustainability, complete a half marathon, or research marine conservation initiatives. The Island School community has provided me with widespread connections that are now supporting me in my introduction to the working world. 

I was visiting a high school friend at Dartmouth College in January when I ran into one of my teachers from my semester, Glenn Hartman-Mattson, out at a restaurant in Hanover center. Because it had been almost two years, it took me quite some time to place her familiar face. Thankfully Glenn remembered who I was, and we caught up quickly. She had been skiing on the Dartmouth College ski-way that morning and taken a tumble. The irony of this interaction was that the Ski-Patrol member who came to her aid was another girl from my Spring 2015 semester, Noelle Henderson! After speaking with her, I discovered that she was working in the Island School office in Boston. Jokingly I asked her if they were hiring. Luckily for me, she took me seriously and told me that the office was pretty full but that there would be no harm in asking Christian Henry, a Boston Office team member, as there is always more work to be done.

After I returned to school and began my process of summer job searching, I found myself applying for undesirable positions with mind-numbing job descriptions. I remembered my chance encounter with Glenn and I realized that I would much rather be putting my time into an organization that I wholeheartedly supported and was personally invested in. I honestly never expected Christian to take me up on the offer. He admitted that he was surprised about my desire to assist on the business end of things, because he was far more used to people asking to assist with research or to teach on the island. Despite my inexperience, he agreed to take a chance on me and I have proudly held the title of an Advancement Intern for the Cape Eleuthera Foundation for the past three months. I have been tasked with projects varying widely, from researching the extra costs of the semester experience, assisting with strengthening the Sales Force database, analyzing parent feedback, orchestrating a book club, and aiding in their 2017 asset analysis. I am incredibly grateful for how quickly everyone trusted me and treated me like an equal.

The immediate take-aways from The Island School experience, like self-discovery and independence, are quite apparent following one’s semester. However, far less tangible are the benefits of the new family you become a part of. Not until now did I understand the true extent to which these people would go to support me in the years following. I am so thankful to the Island School community for being willing to bring me outside of my comfort zone and to continue to teach me. I cannot thank The Island School enough for continuing to support me, and I hope my fellow IS alumni will also find opportunities to take advantage of this network that we are all a part of!”