Editor’s Note: Hello! It’s Jacob Ferguson, the Marketing and Social Media Intern for the NIU College of Business. While we were freezing in Illinois, sophomore Jinay Shah was giving back in the warm state of Florida through the Deloitte and United Way Alternative Spring Break Program. Read more about his awesome experience below…
by Jinay Shah
Hello everyone! It’s me Jinay again. This Spring Break, I was fortunate enough to be selected by Deloitte for the 2015 Alternative Spring Break Program along side United Way in the beach city of America, Miami, FL. Deloitte is the World’s largest consulting and accounting services firm. One of the goals Deloitte really focuses on is creating and developing a “Maximum Impact”. This is a term Deloitte uses to encourage community service. Maximum Impact is defined as taking financial and intellectual resources and giving back to the community.
Every Spring Deloitte partners with United Way, a large non-profit organization that provides financial, educational and human network support to those in need, and plans two Alternative Spring Break programs for students interested in Deloitte, one in Memphis, Tennessee (Next week for other schools breaks) and the other in Miami, FL. The program in Miami, FL is focused towards assisting students and adults residing in at-risk communities in the city. 48 students were selected out of over 678 applications Deloitte received from all over the country and were split into six groups that would assist various United Way agencies across the city. The programs were set up to assist students of ages 2-5, 6-10 & 11-18 who face financial, mental, and physical or health challenges.
I was placed in an agency called “Cramer EasterSeals Preschool” where I would be responsible for helping out 3-5 year old children in a low-income neighborhood. EasterSeals is a program funded by United Way organization that provides free preschool education to low-income families / Disabled Children in the Miami-Dade County. Our group, also known as “The Chickens” consisted of students from various universities such as University of Mississippi – Ole Miss, Arizona State University, Syracuse University and many others. Every team was assigned one main team leader and a Deloitte professional to stay with the team. Our team leader was Emily Coady (The NIU Deloitte Recruiter) and we also had a new Deloitte Professional on our team from Houston Deloitte office, Nicole. In the picture you can see all of our team!
The first day when we went to the school, I was just amazed by the school because they looked exactly like the private daycare centers, United Way had invested a lot into the preschool to provide excellent education to the underprivileged children at absolutely no cost. We spent 4 days with little kids and all of our group was emotionally touched at the end of the experience. We met the agency directors, teachers and many different support staff members who shared their experience with us. It was extremely difficult to hear the stories of some of the families that lived in the area. A lot of the children at the agency have been victims of domestic violence, parents in prison, and drug abuse. I was really touched emotionally to hear that some kids’ parents were in prison. However, we wanted to make this experience positive for us as well as the kids in the agency and thus we decided to cheer them up by dancing, playing outside and engaging them into learning activities throughout the four days of our service. We participated in activities that would sharpen kids learning skills with letters, numbers, word recognition such as rhyming words, action verbs and other core skills required for them to pass the state examination required by No Child Left Behind Act laws. It was so interesting to see kids pay attention and really enjoy the learning experience and it felt really good because we could experience us making a difference in action throughout the entire week. The Agency made our group a nice Thank You card to remember and always cherish these memories.
After volunteering for the entire day, Deloitte would organize many interesting and fun social and networking events where we had a chance to explore the city while learning more about Deloitte and the opportunities available at Deloitte in Accounting. We visited City of Miami Beach, a Miami Heat game, and much more.Deloitte is also the official “Consulting” sponsor for US Olympics and brings an Olympic athlete at each of their events. I had a chance to meet Cullen Jones from Team USA Swimming who won gold medals and set the world record in 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympic Games along with Michael Phelps. He really inspired me by telling us his life struggles and his passion for swimming and his experiences during the Olympics. For those of you planning on applying to the program, I do not want to spoil it for you. It was literally the best thing I have ever done in my life. The interesting thing was that the dress code for the entire week was casual, which helped me open up and communicate effectively with everyone. I feel like I made 47 new friends from across the country. I would highly recommend everyone to apply to the Deloitte Alternative Spring Break 2016, it is all expense paid trip to Miami during our Spring Break! If you have questions or comments feel free to email or tweet me. Thank you very much for reading my blog, please check out my pictures and don’t forget to follow me on twitter and add me on LinkedIn. Have a great rest of the semester! Feel free to visit http://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/careers/articles/join-deloitte-alternative-spring-break.html for more information about the program and to apply.