Suh Yeon Lee is a high school student who is passionate about social issues, especially in the area of women’s rights. She is keen to make a difference and aspires to work in an NGO in the future! Read on to learn more about how the remote Social Work & NGO Support (hosted out of India) equipped Suh Yeon with the skills and knowledge to pursue a career in this field.
Hi Suh Yeon! Tell us about your remote internship - what were you involved in?
For this Social Work & NGO Support internship, I was matched with an NGO that works to support children and girls who have received an HIV diagnosis. They are supported through care homes that provide shelter, protection and access to education.
The tasks I was involved with included creating weekly social media posts, designed to raise awareness about the urgency of the issues regarding HIV and AIDS in India (especially with regard to children). I also contributed to the design of weekly lesson plans, aimed at providing professional and personal development for young girls.
I settled into my role quickly and was given the independence to work on my tasks. My supervisor was available and I was able to actively reach out for feedback or guidance when I needed to.
My internship role benefitted the host organization, as I helped enhance their social media platforms, which play a pivotal role in attracting potential donors and volunteers. Also, the lesson plans that I created help ensure that the girls from the care homes, who are soon approaching adulthood, are better equipped to adjust and thrive in modern society.
As a high school student, why did you choose to do this remote internship?
I don’t have a lot of experience working in a professional setting. This was my first internship and I went into it with no expectations or prior knowledge. This internship provided an opportunity for growth, as through the guidance I obtained from those who are more experienced, I learned a lot more and was able to apply new information to the future career opportunities I will consider.
Were there cultural elements you adapted to, through online collaboration with the team in India?
I don’t think there were many huge cultural obstacles and the transition was pretty seamless. However, learning how to address elders in a specific way and calling them with a specific cultural title was something I had to adjust to. I was highly prepared for this change though, since I was informed beforehand.
I discovered some cultural similarities, such as the immense respect for elders, the hierarchical system within the workplace, and the emphasis on collaboration to achieve prime efficiency. I had assumed that perhaps the internship supervisor wouldn’t be super fluent in English, but this quickly proved to be wrong, after my first conversation with them.
Were there challenges or unexpected aspects of the experience?
Something that was different to what I imagined was the fact that we didn’t have daily meetings. I actually quite enjoyed this as it gave me a larger sense of independence and I preferred getting feedback through emails and texts rather than zoom meetings.
Going into the internship, I had expected to work with a large group and collaborate on group projects. However, after settling into my role as an intern, I noticed that a lot of the work is independent and I had to actively reach out to my advisor for feedback. Thus, a piece of advice I would give to others is that you should be ready for a lot of communication via email and texting as opposed to constant verbal discussions.
How did you manage the remote nature of the internship experience?
I utilized multiple strategies and used a wide variety of online communication platforms to communicate with my supervisor - emailing, texting, calling, etc. Given the online nature of the internship, I had to prioritize my internship tasks by planning out how to allocate my assigned work throughout the week beforehand to make sure that I could get tasks completed earlier so that I could rest on the weekends. This gave me an increased sense of responsibility and accountability. I was willing to commit to this, due to the respect I have for my internship organization and supervisor, as well as the promise I made to myself to fulfill all my duties. My efforts were rewarded when I saw the work I’d created go live on social media platforms and I received praise for this.
What were the highlights from your internship?
My biggest take-away from the internship was realizing the power we hold to make a change in many people’s lives, whether that is through raising awareness or directly intervening to provide hands-on help.
My #1 favorite memory was definitely when the first social media post I created went live. It was a very fulfilling experience and it felt like all my hard work was worth it at the end. There was a degree of autonomy and I was allowed to let my creative juices flow on how I integrated the content with the design.
I think my most significant learning points were definitely learning how to manage my time better and take initiative for my own learning and development. Since I had multiple tasks assigned to me during a week with no specific due dates, it was for the most part on me to stay on-track and fulfill my duties as an intern. At the same time, I had a lot going on in my life outside of my internship, so learning how to balance everything was something I am very proud of!
What kind of personal and professional development did you take away from this internship?
My role gave me the opportunity to hone my communication, design, research and writing skills which are all essential qualities to embody for long-term success in the career fields I am interested in. I learnt how to promote organizations and create awareness through social media. These skills are applicable to future marketing career paths that I would potentially be interested in pursuing. I also feel more empowered to dive deeper into the hardships that those living with HIV face. I received guidance from an experienced supervisor and this was a great opportunity for growth as I had learnt a lot and will be able to utilize these transferable skills for future career opportunities.
From here, I am motivated to work even harder in school so that in the future, I will be able to work for an amazing company like my host organization, that gives back to their community. I would like to focus on my studies and after graduating, look for more internships similar to the one provided by my NGO host organization, so that I can combine business with service to others.
How can I get started?
Our step-by-step guide on how it works provides you with more information on how to get started. The process is user friendly - just submit your application to get the ball rolling. It doesn’t cost anything to apply and won’t take more than 5 minutes. However, your formal expression of interest provides the foundation for us to help you take the next steps.