The following is an interview that should appear in the next issue of the G.O.A.’L newsletter, The OAK. Describes more fully my internship.
Kelli: How was your overall experience being an intern at GOA’L this summer? Could you share with us what it was like being a summer intern at GOA’L?
Sarah: I had a fantastic experience working as an intern for GOA’L this summer! I worked Monday-Friday, 10am-6pm, during the same hours that the office is open to the public. Once a week, I had a meeting with my supervisor, Nicole Sheppard (GOA’L Vice-Secretary-General). Much of my day was spent on the computer, working on various projects (mainly a handbook for GOA’L employees). However, I also got the chance to meet and interact with a number of adoptees that came into the office. It was an incredibly busy summer for GOA’L (July and August averaged around 150 visitors per month). When the other staff members were busy, I usually answered basic questions such as how to apply for the F4 visa, gave directions to KoRoot, etc., to visitors.
Kelli: As an intern, what were some of your duties?
Sarah: My main project was working on a GOA’L staff handbook for current and future employees of GOA’L. The handbook describes the organizational structure, services & programs, administration and regulations of GOA’L. In order to write this major document, I had to interview each of the staff members several times. The handbook is designed for internal use only, but hopefully it will provide enough institutional memory so that as GOA’L continues to grow and change, the staff will be able to have actual documentation of its evolution. Also, the document I created this summer is Version 1.0, which can be updated (hopefully annually) in the future.
In addition to the handbook, I created evaluations for the GOA’L Conference and also compiled the information from the evaluations in a report. I also did some work for IKAA (International Korean Adoptee Associations) at the G.O.A.’L office in preparation for the Gathering in 2007.
Kelli: What was your purpose for doing an internship with a non-profit origanization, especially for GOA’L? How did you become involved with GOA’L? Was it an easy process to find an internship?
Sarah: I am currently in the middle of studying for my M.P.A. (Master of Public Administration) through the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington (located in Seattle). One of the requirements for graduation is the completion of at least 400 hours in an internship where we can apply the analytical and managerial skills we acquire in our school program. Since I am on the Board of Directors of Asian Adult Adoptees of Washington (AAAW), I have some experience working with grassroots Korean adoptee organizations. I chose to work with GOA’L for my internship because while I was living in Korea (2004-2005), I learned about GOA’L and met Dae Won and Nicole. During that time, I attended some GOA’L events such as the General Meeting, Christmas party and discussion forums. I want to support GOA’L because it was founded by adoptees, for adoptees. I also want to support GOA’L (along with AAAW) as a fellow IKAA (International Korean Adoptee Associations) member organization.
I knew that I wanted to work with GOA’L for my internship as early as autumn of 2005. Initially, I contacted Dae-won (GOA’L Secretary-General) about the possibility of working for GOA’L, and then he connected me with Nicole, who ended up being my internship site supervisor.
Kelli: What did you learn most from being an intern at GOA’L?
Sarah: I learned a lot of the intimate details of how GOA’L functions as an organization. As a small, nonprofit organization, GOA’L faces many obstacles in terms of capacity and fundraising, but they are still able to accomplish a great deal by helping many, many adoptees and their families.
Kelli: Is there any advice or tips you’d like to offer to adoptees who are interested in possibly doing an internship for GOA’L in the future?
Sarah: I would encourage any adoptee who is interested in interning for GOA’L to contact Nicole and Dae-won. They are really committed to developing future leaders in the adoptee community and are great mentors. The two of them have a staggering amount of connections and experience.
Kelli: What are some of the advantages or benefits of interning for GOAL? Didn’t it hurt you financially since it was a non-paid internship? How can one manage to work full-time as an intern without any financial assistance?
Sarah: By interning at GOA’L, you are able to support one of the pioneering organizations in the Korean adult adoptee community. In addition, it’s a great opportunity to network with adoptees from all over the world.
Unfortunately, my internship was unpaid, but GOA’L was able to provide me with lunch each day. Luckily, I was awarded a fellowship from my university in order to help cover my costs during my internship this summer. If not for this fellowship, it would’ve been very difficult for me. Although there was little financial reward from my internship, the other benefits more than made up for it. I would encourage anyone who is interested to try their best to find external funding sources for the internship (although it’s possible that GOA’L may be able to provide a small stipend one day in the future).
Kelli: Would you like to say anything more about your internship experience or say anything to anyone before we finish this interview?
Sarah: This was a great experience! It’s really solidified my commitment to the Korean adoptee community, and I hope to be able to better communicate what GOA’L is to other adoptees. I want to thank all of the GOA’L staff for being so supportive and welcoming this summer. Thanks to Dae-won, Nicole, Jin-kyung, Hoya, Joo-yeon, Felix, Eva, and John—I’ll miss you! See you next summer for the Gathering!