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Supporter Spotlight: Winter interns share their experiences

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Each quarter, interns join our team to learn, gain professional skills, and share their talents with our staff and clients. The contributions made by interns, who all come with incredible lived experience, professional skills, and educational backgrounds, are enormous. This month, we had conversations with a handful of interns about their backgrounds, experiences, and hopes for the future.

If you're interested in joining the IRC in Seattle as an intern, check out our current positions here

Milagros, Anti-Trafficking Casework Intern

Milagros, a native Peruvian who has called Seattle home for the past 20 years, joins us as a student from the University of Washington's Master of Social Work program. She brings with her a passion for social work with immigrant/refugee/asylum seeker populations, and loves speaking languages - seeing them as a portal to new cultures and ways of life. She speaks Spanish, English, French and Portuguese, enjoys traveling internationally, biking, and creating hand-made cards for loved ones.

A woman wearing red lipstick smiles, with a bookcase in the background.
Milagros Photo: Milagros/IRC

Q: What drew you to interning at the IRC?

A: What drew me to do my first-year MSW practicum at the IRC was its mission “…to help people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and gain control of their future”. I highly value and respect the work that the IRC has done and continues to do for the wellbeing of the multicultural, multi-linguistic, immigrant and refugee populations it serves at the local, national, and international levels. I knew that if given the opportunity to intern at the Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network (WARN) team, my commitment to advocate for vulnerable populations to re-gain control over their lives would be strengthened.

Q: Do you have any highlights from your internship so far?

A: One of the highlights of my work right now is being able to access trainings at the local, state, and national levels that will be better prepare as I start working with labor trafficking survivors. Another highlight is learning about the different dimensions of labor trafficking case management work and the experiences of survivors through case presentation during my weekly supervision with my direct supervisors. It is enriching for me to learn about the different approaches, services and systems they utilize and interact with in order to provide the best possible assistance to the clients they serve. Lastly, I very much enjoy connecting with everyone in the Survivor Services program during weekly meetings. Because we are under a pandemic, it can be harder to connect in a deeper level with those who are supporting and mentoring me during my practicum; thus, it is nice to have various spaces to learn from one another.

Q: Any challenges you experience or face?

A: The most challenging thing I would say is doing practicum remotely. While we have the technology to support our work under a pandemic, there is something invaluable in being able to interact with someone in person and form relationships. That said, the WARN team has gone out of their way to make sure I feel welcome, appreciated, included, and supported during our current circumstances. 

Q: What's next for you? 

A: Once I complete my MSW program, my objective is to work with immigrant/refugee populations at the international level by utilizing my polyglottal skills in combination with my multicultural competency. As I build experience in the Social Work field, my goal is to join the UN or another international organization that work closely with these populations. My internship at the IRC plays an important role in achieving these objectives in that it will strengthen my skills, provide me with a renewed perspective that surrounds the circumstances of refugees and immigrants’ lives, and give me a deeper understanding of what it is like to work collaboratively with different local, state, and international institutions for the well-being of vulnerable groups.

Kobe, Economic Empowerment Intern

Kobe is currently a senior at Niagara University with a major in Economics and a minor in Africana Studies. He is Haitian - American, and born and raised in Rochester, New York and is an intern with our Economic Empowerment team. As an intern, he in partnership with newcomers to help them meet their employment related goals. He also works closely with the Economic Empowerment team, supporting the program both internally and externally.  From resume review to client outreach, Kobe provides vital support for staff and program participants. 

"I have enjoyed every second of my time as an intern with the Economic Empowerment program. I have always enjoyed helping others. Being a part of any type of progression, whether that be physical, mental, or emotional for an individual, is an extraordinary process to watch and be a part of. A great idol of mine, Kobe Bryant, once quoted, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.  And if you guys can understand that, then what you’ll see happen is that you won’t accomplish your dreams.  Your dreams won’t come true, something greater will.”  This epitomizes embracing the process of life - because there will always be ups and downs, but it is to important accept the good with the bad and strive to be better than you were yesterday." 

A young man leaning against an outdoor stone wall smiles with his arms crossed.
Photo: Kobe/IRC

 

Q: How does this internship connect to your future plans?

A: This internship is already preparing me for my future endeavors as I am receiving real world experience interacting with colleagues and clients, while discussing the maintenance and managing of different sectors such as finances, job placement, tutorial services and one’s overall wellbeing. 

Q: What are you looking forward to next?

A: I am looking forward to my time with the IRC as well as the growth that my peers and I will experience in this program.

Kylie, Career Development Intern

Kylie is a recent graduate from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo with a BA in Communication Studies, and a double minor in Environmental Studies and Science and Risk Communication. She joins us from Novato, California.

A woman in a coat sitting on a beach, with a colorful sunset in the background.
Photo: Kylie/IRC

Q: What do you do, day to day, in your internship role?

A: As the Career Development Intern, I spend most of my day calling clients and helping them search for, apply for, and interview for jobs. I also help clients set up their LinkedIns, lead workshops on a variety of professional development topics, and help out with a lot of other miscellaneous tasks.

Q: What challenges have you faced during your internship?

A: I would love to have been able to meet my co-workers in person- I don't even know how tall they are! However, we still meet weekly over video and I get to see their faces and have great conversations with them. I think remote work has been both a blessing and a struggle for my role. I get to talk to clients a lot more often because it's easier to hop on the phone than to come into the office, but sometimes it's very difficult to help them when we can't sit down and work on something in person. 

Q: How does your time spent with us at the IRC tie in with your future goals? 

A: I fully intend to dedicate my life to helping others, and this internship has easily set me on that track. I am now looking for full-time work with people experiencing homelessness and hope to run for elected office in the near future. This internship has given me the skills I need to succeed in my work, and I really hope that I get to work at the IRC again someday. 

Q: What are you looking forward to next?

A: My internship is coming to a close soon, but I am looking forward to seeing more of my clients get jobs and strengthen their footing here in the U.S. I've seen how hard they work and am so happy when I get to see that hard work pay off.

Yiran, Immigration Intern

A woman smiles on a porch or deck, with evergreen trees in the background.
Photo: Yiran/IRC

"I was raised along the Yangtze River in China, and grew up staring at the edge of the water, imagining the world beyond my vision. In pursuit of more opportunities, my family immigrated to the United States for my and my brother’s education. I witnessed the family’s daunting immigration process; amidst the challenges, however, I discovered the key source of my family’s perseverance: love. Currently I am a sophomore studying International Relations and Economics at Boston University, dedicating my energy to student publications, including the Daily Free Press and BU Pre-law Review. I am eager to learn more about global migration and international law. In my free time, I enjoy painting, running, and dancing"

Q: What inspired you to want to join us as an intern at the IRC in Seattle?

A: I was particularly drawn to the internship as IRC's mission and value perfectly resonated with mine. Determined to practice immigration law in the future, I always aspire to help immigrants rebuild their lives and achieve their dreams. By joining the global humanitarian organization, I would be empowered to directly help the most vulnerable, underrepresented communities. Therefore, interning at IRC is an unparalleled opportunity for me to pursue my biggest goal: offering legal aid and emotional support to individuals most in need, especially in a difficult time like this. 

Q: What types of immigration related projects have you been working on?

A: So far, I have helped filing immigration forms for IRC clients, including G28, N400, and I912. I have also conducted an outreach project to help eligible immigrants navigate their citizenship applications.

Q: How does this internship tie-in with your future plans?

A: My internship experience at IRC can not only hone my oral/written communication skills, but also equip me with skills and knowledge for a future career in human rights and international law. Next summer, I look forward to interning as a paralegal; therefore, my experience of working with a senior legal representative at IRC is incredibly valuable .