Creating Opportunities, Gaining Experiences

By Yuanlong D., Current DC MS/HS Program Youth
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff

It all started with a simple inquiry I made to one of the AALEAD staff: “Is it possible if I interned here?”. My school, School Without Walls High School, requires every student to complete one semester of internship in order to graduate, so I spent six months searching for a place I could intern. Many of my friends chose to intern at George Washington University, since our school was right on their campus. While I could have easily chosen this route, I thought it would be better to go out and find an internship that was unique. During the AALEAD end of the year party, I talked to Stephanie, the Mentoring & Volunteer Programs Coordinator at the time, about my struggles of finding an internship. We discussed the possibility of me interning at AALEAD. She was very open to the idea and in the following months we discussed how we would make it happen. After a few months of preparation and discussion, here I am, writing this blog post about the first two months of my internship experience.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering what I’ve been doing during the past two months. One of my biggest priorities up until now has been to support the Mentoring Program. Since there is a new Mentoring Program Coordinator, I have been responsible for creating the mentoring event in  April (which every mentoring pair should go to) to ease our new coordinator’s transition into AALEAD. I have also been assisting the DC Middle and High School Program by creating budget plans and activities.

Yuanlong has taken to sitting at Raj's desk on Mondays

Yuanlong has taken to sitting at Raj’s desk on Mondays

Having the chance to learn outside of the classroom has been one of things I appreciate most from this internship. When I first asked about this internship, I wanted to be able to learn a variety of skills that would benefit me later on in life; things that I would never be able to learn in a school environment. I knew that the things I would have to do at internship would be completely different from the work I did at school, so I went in on my first day being open minded. Being open minded has really helped me get the most out of this experience, since the work being given to me every day varied greatly. One day I would be getting a taste of how to manage money, and another day I would be planning events, so every day would be a refreshing. This made learning and enjoying the experience a lot easier because it would always be something I could relate to and never too much information to take in at once.

This opportunity all started with a simple question, and I sincerely appreciate Stephanie and the rest of the AALEAD staff who were so supportive of the idea. Moving forward, I am excited to see AALEAD programs grow and hopeful that there will be more opportunities for youth to gain valuable leadership experience.

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