Fall 2017 Internship Reflections: A Fulfilling and Educational Opportunity

By Fahduma Majid, Development and Communications Intern and Jenny Zhang, DC Elementary School Program Intern
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff

 

The AALEAD internship program seeks to provide interns with an educational and impactful experience. This semester, AALEAD had the privilege of supporting Fahduma Majid and Jenny Zhang in our internship program!  Freidricka Camille, Community College and Internship Programs Coordinator, shares that “Being the internship coordinator gives me the opportunity to strengthen relationships with program supervisors and to witness our interns grow in their professional skills and youth development approach. ” Freidricka is “excited to help our interns grow professionally and to be a part of their experience in the AALEAD family and community. “

Check out our thoughtful and personal intern reflections below!:

Fahduma Majid, Development and Communications Intern

December 15 marks the last day of a two month internship with AALEAD where I did communications and outreach. Starting off, I was interested in a smaller scale non-profit as the last few work experiences I had were very corporate in their vibes. I’m not sure what I expected as I had never worked in the youth development field before, but I wasn’t expecting to interact with the youth that much so…..

…..but how wrong I was! AALEAD provided a environment designed to help their interns grow, both professionally and personally. And to really understand what this internship is about is to interact with the youth they mentored every day.

 

I hadn’t worked with youth in years (does summer camp counseling in high school count?) but I always knew I enjoyed interacting with them, and this internship reaffirmed that. Youth from all age groups always have a mature and unique perspective on most topics. When I went to Holmes Middle School, and helped facilitate a workshop on privilege, I was taken aback by the worldly understanding these middle schoolers had. Did I even understand the concept of financial or racial privilege until I was in college? A lot of individuals underestimate youth, a flawed way of thinking. One of my favorite parts about this internship was the many one-on-one conversations I had on youth from slime (look it up on Youtube!) to their view on inequalities in the world.

 

Of course, I did some actual work during this internship too. Mostly handling social media strategy and communication outreach, I constructed posts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, trying to grow our online presence over the course of two months. Anything to do with graphics I also handled, streamlining our flyers to be more modern and digestible. 

Being treated as an actual member of the AALEAD family rather than just another “intern” which is common nowadays, was refreshing.

With an environment of open feedback and communication, I was able to grow both my professional skills and interpersonal ones. From social media posts to flyer tweaking, I went through multiple rounds of feedback–but I enjoyed seeing my work from different perspectives, and having my opinions actually listened to when it came to brainstorming for the upcoming week. Being treated as an actual member of the AALEAD family rather than just another “intern” which is common nowadays, was refreshing. My colleagues provided support not just when it came to AALEAD, but also in my own professional life, setting up informational interviews with their contacts to help me decide my future career path. It was incredible working with an organization I knew cared about me, and I’ll take my experiences to mold me as a better individual from here on out.

Jenny Zhang, DC Elementary School Program Intern 

I found out about AALEAD while I was searching for another opportunity to round out my time in DC during my semester off from my undergraduate program at the University of Pennsylvania, where I am an Urban Studies major. I had just accepted a part-time internship opportunity with a international humanitarian aid, development, and advocacy non-profit organization. But there I was, the night before I moved to DC, obsessively scrolling through Indeed and LinkedIn, hoping that there were still fall internship openings, so I could round out the rest of my time in DC. I finally came across a  posting for an internship position at AALEAD working with DC elementary school students that I had been posted just hours earlier. Reading the internship description, it had everything I wished for: the opportunity to with the Asian American community, engage Asian American youth, within the setting of an urban public school. I frantically submitted an application and crossed my fingers hoping that I would have the chance to work with such an amazing organization. Fast-forward to today, a couple of months later, I am now writing my reflection on my experience as the AALEAD Fall 2017 DC Elementary School Intern.

 

Having the opportunity to work with such an incredible non-profit like AALEAD, with an even more inspiring mission, has been a dream. As the DCES intern I worked with youth and staff at both Bancroft Elementary School and Thomson Elementary School, who were nothing short of fantastic. I worked with the Pre-K to second grade at Bancroft and the third to fifth grade class at Thomson. Each time I went to site, the AALEADers greeted me with abounding energy and an enthusiastic “Hi, Miss Jenny!” that made it feel like I wasn’t even working. No matter how tired I was, I always looked forward to going to site because I knew that I would be able to have the chance to have a positive impact on a youth’s life and vice versa.

One of the most challenging parts of the internship was creating a lesson plan and teaching it to the two classes I was supporting. I chose to focus my lesson on mental health, since it is a growing problem within the Asian community due to the stigma that surrounds it. My lesson focused around the impact of self talk and the importance of having a positive mindset, despite negative circumstances. When I introduced the lesson to the Thomson 3rd – 5th graders, I was met with some groans about the lesson not being a “fun lesson.” To be honest, it was quite discouraging and I felt pretty dejected throughout the rest of the lesson. Thanks to support from Ms. Nadia and Ms. Danielle, I dragged through the lesson. Sometimes getting answers from the youth was like pulling teeth; they just seemed disinterested. However, at the end of the lesson when I asked the class the classic, “So, what did you learn today?” question, I was met with an array of answers that hit on all of the main ideas of the lesson. I was surprised, and honestly a bit disappointed in myself that I had such little faith in the youth. Even though they might appear that they are disinterested, youth may just have a different way of internalizing information or reacting to something.

Through this internship, I also saw firsthand that youth work is an incredibly important investment that is crucial to the growth of communities and America as a whole.

Through my experience with AALEAD, I definitely learned a lot from the tasks I completed, the staff, and, of course, the youth! I learned that patience is incredibly important – there is always a learning curve. No matter how much reading or prep work I did, what taught me most about youth work was actually, physically doing it. I also learned that youth definitely know more than you might think – they will surprise you! Through this internship, I also saw firsthand that youth work is an incredibly important investment that is crucial to the growth of communities and America as a whole. I am incredibly grateful for this experience working with AALEAD and all the wonderful youth and staff at Bancroft and Thomson. I could not have asked for a more fulfilling and educational internship experience. Thank you, AALEAD.

 

 

For more information on our internship program, please contact Freidricka Camille, Community College and Internship Programs Coordinator at fcamille@aalead.org

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