“So long for now” from an SSE intern

And there it goes: my one month internship at the School for Social Entrepreneurs  – both physically and experientially a world away from home. 

What I was hoping to do in my last blog posting for the SSE was to cover a variety of the “yays” or “nays” of the past month. However, since I have been quizzed all morning about the internship and my experience, I am going to format this post like one of those clichéd chain-letters that we all instantly delete out of our inboxes.  Enjoy!

What was the most enjoyable aspect of the internship?
Being able to work with a variety of the staff at the SSE and undertaking a variety of tasks really made the internship a truly dynamic experience and introduced me to a variety of different angles that one must look at in order to organise successful organisation.

What was the most memorable moment of the internship? 
Catering for the Working with Young People learning event with Cynthia and Matt and organising the rest of the event. Seeing the positive response from the event itself was also incredibly fulfilling.

What was the best UK word or phrase learned?
“You takin’ a mickey outta me?”

What was the greatest experience of the internship?
Shadowing Chief Executive Alastair Wilson to his meeting at the British Library and observe how he worked conversation, initiated a potential partnership, and balanced professionalism and personality in a formal setting.

What was the greatest experience of London?
The PriceWaterhouseCoopers pantomime.  Although I am not the biggest fan of Disney’s Snow White, I thought the pantomime was the complete package tying together every aspect of my experience here in London into one evening. It included everything from a social experience of seeing influential members of charities and organisations come together for an informal meet, greet, and network session, to an entertainment experience of watching PWC staff (accountants, receptionists and everything in between) put on a brilliant play for children and adults, to a learning experience seeing the importance and impact of CSR (corporate social responsibility) from both a marketing and business perspective.

Which was better, the front office or back office?
This could possibly get me in trouble… they both have their own benefits and atmospheres making for an enjoyable experience in their own unique ways.

Was the internship worth it? 
Without a doubt.

To those who read my blog postings, thank you for your interest, comments, and support.

To the SSE, St. Olaf College, and those that supported this endeavour:  Thank you for all of your time, help, and support in making this opportunity possible.

As I depart, I wish you all the best with your social entrepreneurial ventures and remember (as Nick Temple once told me) “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”


Nick Kang
SSE Intern

Share Button

Intern Update: Last Week at the SSE

So tomorrow will mark Nick Kang and my last day at the London School for Social Entrepreneurs and I don't think either one of us can really believe the month is over already.  This experience has been a great start to the new year and I am looking forward to tracking the development and growth of the SSE in the coming years. 

Probably one of the best parts of the experience would have to be meeting all of the great students in this year's programme.  They really are an impressive bunch whose enterprises range from money management courses to architectural services for youth centres.  Few times have I ever had the opportunity to meet a group that was so driven and focused to make a change in their community.  What's even more impressive was to sit in on last week's session with the London Weekly programme and to listen to them brainstorm ideas on how to stay together after they graduate from this year's SSE programme. If this fervor to hold regular meetings after graduating from the SSE is any indicator, clearly this is an organization has made an incredible impact on these people's lives. 

Other highlights of the past few weeks would have to include the ongoing intern education of British culture.  As a result of the past month I think it's fair to say the Brit's have a great sense of humour (if a bit dry), can put on a great pantomime, and know how to whip up some wicked scones at a moment's notice.

Thank you SSE staff for the great month. 

Share Button

Working with Young People: a peer learning session

YPedit2Just two days ago, the SSE was able to organise a learning session that not only transformed the way individuals thought about young people, but how to work with these young people to define and work towards common goals. This is how it went:
It began during my first week in the SSE office (January 4-9). One of my responsibilities was to ensure that we would have “at least 10 participants” for the event to be successful. Estimating that over half of those who RSVP would not show up, Cynthia advised me to confirm around or as close to 25 as I could.

Nervous at first, I became quite comfortable with the recruiting tasks and communicating with those interested in attending this event. Through countless inbound and outbound e-mails, I had an RSVP list of 34, with 6 more on a Wait List by 20 January, the end of the timeframe I was given. It was a success so far: some were not convinced and as YPedit1a challenge, Cynthia and my fellow intern Matt decided to put a “Full English Breakfast” on the line at a local greasy spoon for who could estimate how many of the 34 would attend. I suppose I knew more information than the others, but regardless, that full English breakfast was delightful. 

Returning to the event, we had twenty-eight participants (including myself and Rosie Ferguson’s young colleague) which packed the Michael Young room like a can of sardines. Prior to the start of the learning session, we had a glorious buffet of cold meats, cheeses, breads, salYPedit3ads, and vegetables catered by SSE’s very own CMN (Cynthia-Matt-Nick) Catering. The session then commenced and London Director of London Youth Rosie Ferguson took the floor and facilitated both the workshop through both large group and small group discussions about “how to engage young people once they’re on board.”

Within the discussions participants often tied working with youth with ideas of partnerships and sponsorships, stereotypes and generalisations, and the balance of professionalism and personality needed to build the bridge between young people and the entrepreneurial world. We were also able to do real-life case studies of each other’s projects and organisations in terms of how we meet the needs of our 6 P's (People, Place, Price, Promotion, Philosophy, and Product) and how our organisations are only as strong as the weakest of these elements.

Overall, the learning session was a huge success thanks to all of the recruiting work done by Cynthia, all of those who helped spread the word about the event, Capacity Builders for supporting the event, Rosie Ferguson for sharing her knowledge and experience, and all the participants for being extremely engaged in the discussions.

Share Button

A third language and an unforgettable experience

Just three weeks ago, I was stuck at Heathrow waiting for my lost baggage to arrive from Chicago.  Now I am reflecting on how fast my time here at the SSE has passed.

As promised two days ago, I will discuss the student-facilitated workshop from yesterday. But as I do so, I believe it would be useful to also discuss what I have learned during my time here.

Considering that my supervisors from college will be reading this, I will clarify that my focus has not been entirely on the understanding and learning the UK English language.  But it has been important inside and outside of the office nonetheless. Examples of my new language include something about “taking a Mickey out on me” which has to do with giving someone a hard time, “bloke” which is some sort of a man, “mate” which does not necessarily refer to any sort of act other than friendship, and “nip to the loo” which is some strange way to excuse oneself for the restroom. With the amount of slang here, I am nearing the point of adding UK English as my third language next to French and good ol’ Canadian (now half-American) English.

My learning has stretched much further than UK English jargon (as my supervisors will be grateful to know).  At the SSE specifically, I have been able to make advances within my computer knowledge, making me much more efficient at producing mass media. I have also been taught how to use Twitter… however I am embarrassed to announce that I only have one lone follower: the SSE’s Nick Temple.

Away from the computer, I have been able to observe the work of the SSE programme itself, learning how they use the action learning methodology to train these students to become social entrepreneurs.  This action learning methodology finds its roots in the inspiration and guidance from “been there, done that” witnesses who have proved themselves within the social entrepreneurial world.  The students then follow-up with reflection periods and take what they learn and apply it to their own projects. Collectively, the SSE experience transforms both ideas and ideals into actions through this proven model.

More personally, I have really been able to identify the structural and administrative dynamics within the SSE and use it to brainstorm and reflect on my own social entrepreneurial ideas. There has been a definite opportunity to further develop my own strategic plans, and focus on areas of my programs that I may have ignored prior to this journey.

With that, I cannot reiterate how great this experience has been.  I am extremely grateful for my college (St. Olaf College, MN), the CEL, the SSE, and, most importantly, my parents back home in Canada for supporting this venture.

To all social entrepreneurs: keep up the great work, keep on truckin', and never give up.


Share Button

“Busy” does it at the SSE

SSElogoweb Over half way through our internship here at the SSE, and Matt and I just made the swap, sending me to work with the Policy & Communications branch of the SSE alongside our site supervisor Nick Temple and sending Matt to the back office to work with the Programmes team. 

Although the first couple days of transition have been a relative cesspool of work from both areas of the SSE, they have been rewarding nonetheless.  Currently in Programmes, I have more or less taken ownership of the keeping track of the attendance list for the Working with Young People learning session. This learning session will be bringing Director of London at London Youth Rosie Ferguson and twenty or so practitioners, SSE students, and SSE fellows together to discuss the ins and outs of working with our younger generation.  The event takes place next Tuesday 26 January 2010 here at the London SSE in Bethnal Green. Within the Policy & Communications field, I have been researching and recording important political networks for the respective franchises of the SSE.

The productivity of the employees here at the SSE head office continues to amaze me. With application deadlines and graduations approaching, the Programmes team (otherwise known as the “Back Office”) has been working diligently with a final recruiting push as well as confirming speakers, guest lists, and attendees for the upcoming festivities. In the front office, the work and deadlines do not subside.  Grant proposals, funding requests, and reports seem to be a major focus.  Administratively, Chief Executive Alastair Wilson, Network Director Suzanne Creasey, and Sustainability Officer Owusu Akoto have been in and out of the office attending meetings throughout the UK.

My interest continues to grow within the SSE programme and how they work with their students. In lieu of this interest, tomorrow I will have the opportunity to attend a learning session of the London SSE Weekly Programme that will be self-facilitated by the group itself.  Topics for the learning session include Secondary Networking, Making Links, and How to Work Collectively to Sustain Ourselves as Social Entrepreneurs. Check back soon for an update on the session itself!

There are other tasks for me to complete  other than blogging, so cheers from the SSE.


Applications for the London SSE Programme are due on 15 Feburary 2010. Contact Cynthia Quek at [email protected] for more details or visit www.sse.org.uk.

Share Button