Applications are nerve-wracking for anyone…particularly when you’re fresh out of college and applying to one of the country’s most prestigious social service programs, Teach for America (TFA).
Jake Whitman believes it doesn’t have to be. So he sat down and began to write. Several months later, Destination: Teach for America was born.
“I want to level the information playing field,” Whitman says. “Every applicant should have the opportunity to most effectively prove that he is the best person to lead a classroom.” With that goal in mind, Whitman designed a book that was part wisdom, part resource, to demystify the notoriously rigorous application process. Exercises, worksheets, and other resources help applicants think about how to develop leadership qualities, craft their application, and prepare for the interview process in a holistic manner that builds successful applicants and, in turn, strong educators. Whitman’s own wisdom – coupled with the advice of more than 20 current and former TFA participants – provides the practical tips applicants need to confidently navigate the process.
But the book didn’t write itself. Whitman credits the strong network of support from the New Leaders Council (NLC), a progressive leadership training program for young adults, as critical to keeping him motivated through the writing, publishing, and marketing process. NLC participants, called fellows, meet in small support groups groups throughout the five-month training program. These groups discuss their personal ambitions, strategize for the future, and encourage each other along the way.
For Whitman, his ELP group’s initial enthusiasm for the project inspired him to put pen to paper. But they also provided the support and practical advice to see him to the finish line. “At the beginning of the year, writing this book wasn’t really even on my radar,” he admits. “However, a couple of months in, I told my group that I had begun pre-writing and outlining my book, and they encouraged me to continue. We met every six weeks or so outside of NLC, and it was always encouraging that I was able to report back to the group the progress that I had made.”
Beyond the encouragement of his ELP group, Whitman found the skills he learned in NLC training sessions essential to making Destination: Teach for America a success. “Budgeting, social media, and even fundraising have all come into play during this project, all of which are trainings that NLC conducts. I attribute much of my ability to navigate the wide range of skills needed to write this book and develop my business to my involvement with NLC,” he says.
You can pre-order your own copy of Destination: Teach for America here. If you or someone you know is an ambitious young leader like Jake, apply for the New Leaders Council or nominate her or him. Applications close on Sunday, November 11.