Thuy Vi Nguyen
Major: International Relations
- Internship: American Youth Policy Forum
- Participated: Winter 2019
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thuy-vi-thi-nguyen/
- Current Position: Research Assistant (The Public Goods Project) at Teachers College, Columbia University
Tell us about your internship – what kind of work did you do? What did you find rewarding?
As an intern at AYPF, I was able to participate in a lot of substantive work, as I worked in a small company that gave various writing, research, and event planning opportunities to their interns. I worked with policy associates and directors on projects including creating an infographic to disseminate research on alternative education under the ESSA, communicating with Congressional staffers to update our database, developing an infographic video on child abuse and its impact on foster youth, writing a blog post on the importance of social and emotional learning, among various other presentation and event planning projects. Within the 10 weeks, I was able to take on and complete a variety of different projects that gave me hands-on knowledge on how a non-profit in the education policy world works. Because my company was small, I was able to work closely with my supervisors, ask pressing questions, and share my ideas with them; I was heard, and my opinions were valued. The staff at AYPF gave me room to grow and focused on my professional development, putting me on projects that challenged me. I was also able to attend many education policy events and learned a lot more about the field.
Have your career or life goals changed as a result of your internship? If so, how?
The experience definitely solidified my interest in US education policy. Coming to UC Davis, I had an interest in international education policy, but I still was unsure if that was what I wanted to pursue as a career. My interest in education policy grew as I took more education classes at UC Davis. However, this internship opportunity made me certain of my passion for supporting youth here in the United States. Being in DC, working in a professional environment, and doing a good job helped me realize that I had a place in this field and that I can make an impact. I had a lot of fears coming to DC, thinking that an Asian woman like me would not make it in the policy world. My experience here changed all that and definitely taught me that I am so much more capable than I imagined.
Share an exciting memory from your internship – something unexpected, an accomplishment, someone you met.
I came up with a crazy idea to create an infographic awareness video about foster youth and their vulnerability to sex trafficking. I was interested in this particular group and their difficulties with child abuse after attending a Congressional briefing on child abuse prevention. Given that we are a small company with limited resources, it was difficult for us to hire someone to create this video. So, my supervisor tasked me to do some research and see if this was a possibility. I found a program online that would allow us to create an animated video for our purposes, and within the last 3 weeks of my internship, I worked on the script and creation of this video. On the last day, I was able to finish the video to my supervisor's surprise, given the limited time I had. I am glad that I was able to talk about such an important topic and be a voice for foster youth through this video. I am also grateful to have had the opportunity to pursue this project.
Did your internship lead to any opportunities?
I was able to have a coffee meeting with the internship coordinator at another non-profit organization that I was interested in working for back home. I was lucky that he was in DC for a short time, and my supervisor had connections with that organization. He was a joy to chat with and encouraged me to apply for their summer internship, but unfortunately, I did not get the internship. However, I believe that working as an intern in DC has added a big plus to my resume and probably helped me get admitted to the MA in Education Policy program at Teacher's College at Columbia University, where I am starting school next Fall.
Share a story about something special you did in Washington – an event you attended, a place you went, an exciting talk, etc.
I had the amazing opportunity to attend numerous events that were absolutely amazing and informative, but I think one of the most exciting things that I did was being able to go to the Smithsonians. I love museums and have always wanted to visit one whenever I get the chance. Being in DC was great in that it is the hub for amazing and beautiful museums, and I got to visit so many - all for free! Transportation was super simple, and getting around to all those museums were so easy. Trying new food is always great, and DC has a ton of great food places. Happy hour is also big there, so going out to eat and socialize with friends was always fun.
How has living in the nation’s capital for a quarter changed you?
It made me more confident in myself. Thriving and being successful in the nation's capital instilled confidence in me that I can be independent and pursue things that I am passionate about. It did make me realize how much I missed my comfort food back home and the availability of Asian markets. But, it also expanded my networks and showed me how capable and flexible I was.
Do you have any advice for future UCDC students?
Take advantage of ALL the opportunities in DC. There were so many things I wished I did, but didn't have the time to or was too afraid to. Don't let fear and doubt stop you, and just do it! Also, if you are worried about food insecurity, your EBT works in DC as well, and that saved me a lot of money on grocery shopping. Explore, have fun, and eat good food!