Why did you and your student choose Dynamy?
My twin sons, Jon & Alex were surprisingly insightful and articulate as to their respective reasons for rejecting a traditional college experience after high school graduation; less so with regard to their vision for an alternative plan. The boys were less than enthusiastic when I ‘suggested’ we attend a gap-year fair in NYC. In response to a program participant’s effusive query “Who wants to go to the outback of Australia?”, my children wholeheartedly offered to send me as they headed for the door. Thankfully, we met Kathy Cheng moments later; her quiet confidence and genuine interest helped us understand Dynamy’s unique ability to foster personal growth, independent life skills and diverse opportunities for professional development within a structured and supportive framework. Dynamy’s first lesson: opening your mind to new possibilities may provide a new possibility!
What do you think your son/daughter has gained from their experience at Dynamy?
The overall personal growth that resulted from the Dynamy experience continues to be evident in these few months since the end of the program for both of my sons. They came away with a greater level of self-assurance and overall confidence in their abilities to problem-solve, self-advocate, and negotiate the vagaries of life in both a personal and professional setting. The realization that both personal and business relationships can sometimes be complicated requiring hard work on the part of all concerned and that in response to unkind or hurtful treatment by another person, the challenging but appropriate response may be that of civility, respect and possibly concern were hard but valuable experiences.
Do you have a funny story or an “ah-ha” moment you/your student had at Dynamy?
I’m not sure whether Dynamy provided more “ah-ha” moments for me or my children as they bubbled up early and often throughout the program. Throughout their lives, I have shared with my children that the lesson learned when experiencing success is valuable, but the most important lessons are often the result of something going wrong and what you choose to do next. At Parent Orientation, we were advised that the unthinkable prospect of a child being ‘fired’ from an unpaid internship is actually not unthinkable. Shortly after hearing and dismissing that possibility as unthinkable, it happened to one of my sons. As I was kept advised of his journey through rejection, uncertainty and new beginning(s), he learned lessons about personal responsibility, integrity, choice and the importance and skills around accessing support and guidance that he carries with him today. I shared in this “ah-ha” moment as I struggled with the realization that I had no role in ‘fixing’ this situation and if there was any rescuing to be done, he would have to rescue himself. Probably a bigger lesson for me than my child!
Reflecting back do you believe their internship year has made an impact in shaping their next steps, views of themselves or the world and career goals?
Without question, the internship year had an enormous impact on shaping both of my sons in a myriad of aspects. In some ways, they both now have a greater understanding that they actually own their choices and the resulting path. Being present to that reality sometimes results in being a bit more anxious or overwhelmed than in the past as they evaluate options or decisions. They both take great pains to gather information and get input as part of the decision-making process. Dynamy’s internships gave both boys clarity regarding careers and environments that don’t fit and insight into their passions and the associated career possibilities. As they embark on their respective paths, they do so with a healthy mix of confidence, trepidation and the understanding that creating a life you love requires a lot of time, a ton of hard work and can be a bit scary as you go outside of your comfort zone.
What advice would you give parents thinking about participating in Dynamy?
Generations of my family, myself included, held the unwavering expectation that a successful career and happy life was the result of the uninterrupted, sequential educational foundation of high school, college, graduate school, and post-graduate school; Plan A was right for me, my husband and a number of our children. Although I wholeheartedly believed that embarking on a traditional college program right out of high school was not right for my sons, I initially considered Dynamy to be a Plan B supporting growth and the eventual achievement of Plan A.
As I reflect over the past year, I realize that Dynamy was Plan A for my sons. As we sat in the Parent Orientation with about 80 pretty accomplished, goal-oriented, caring parents, many of us shared the same quandary with regard to our smart, interesting, creative kids who just would not, could not or should not walk the exact path as their parents, siblings or friends with regard to college and quite possibly, other life choices. Dynamy’s value proposition is so unique because the totality of the experience is about personal empowerment and accountability. The skills, strategies, expectations and commitments that are introduced, developed and practiced throughout are the underpinnings of creating a self-directed, purposeful young adult.
What were you most nervous about as a parent about the Dynamy experience and how did it turn out?
All of the ‘what ifs’ that, as it turned out, were the same concerns most parents naturally shared. What if they use their stipend for concert tickets instead of food and transportation? What if they get lost on the bus? What if they chose to walk home from an event at 3am? What if they get a tattoo? Suffice it to say, I’m sure my sons did all of those things and more. True to their word, the Dynamy staff was proactive and involved when their support was needed and available and responsive to my children and me as appropriate.
In truth, I was most nervous about my ability to trust my kids to the process, quietly observe and let them figure things out. I had a few occasions where being a supportive listener teetered on the edge of intervening, but worked diligently to step away from that edge. Making mistakes is part of life, so where better than the safety and support of Dynamy. Their hard-earned and continued willingness and comfort with taking responsibility to resolve tough situations is a sign of their enormous growth. My growth is a bit less dramatic as I refer to my list of Dynamy’s Best Parent Practices on a daily basis!