This spring the Congressional Hunger Center was fortunate enough to be joined by our two terrific interns Kiana Kelly and Stephanie Jamilla. If you’ve been keeping an eye on this blog, you will have encountered their work already. We’re so grateful to them for the incredible job they’ve done here, and wanted to give them the chance to reflect on their internship experience. The Congressional Hunger Center wishes them both the best of luck with their plans for the future!
Being the Operations Intern for the Congressional Hunger Center has been a valuable learning experience that I will cherish for the rest of my career endeavors. I came into this position with hopes to gain public health work experience in D.C. and possibly expand my network along the way, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Interning at CHC has truly been an adventure. This job has taken me to personal meetings in the office of a US Congressman, to collaborative meal packing events with the entire CHC team and other partnership organizations, and lastly to professional development days with the Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellows. I have been invited into this organization with open arms and have been encouraged and nurtured along the way to better myself and improve my ability to become and effective leader and learner. Working with this organization has provided me with so much valuable information and so many valuable experiences that I will be able to utilize with all my future career goals. In addition, I have been able to expand my network of like-minded people committed to social change and have been inspired to continue working in an environment where everyone is working together towards the greater good of society.
One key insight that I learned from working here is that when focusing on a mission as massive as food security, it is important to stay motivated and determined throughout the entire process. In this field of work, seeing progress takes time which can be discouraging, but keeping a positive mindset, and continuing to be proactive, productive, and committed are fundamentally ingrained in non-profit work. Food security is extremely important, which is something I already knew from my academic work and from being a food lover, but my internship experience has allowed me truly understand all the work that is involved with a goal as massive as creating a food secure world. I will forever treasure the time that I had at CHC, and I encourage anyone else who may love public health, but might not know exactly what areas they want to work in, to work at a non-profit and get a taste of the behind the scenes work of social change and the people who are taking action to solve these pressing issues. Since working here I have felt my confidence grow, my technical skills strengthen, my communication skills advance, and my capacity to self-learn expand. There is nothing more fulfilling than to work with an organization that is helping to better society, which is something the Operations Internship with CHC provided me; I will be forever grateful for the opportunities and experiences I now have from working here. Thank you for the wonderful memories CHC!
Kiana Kelly is a Public Health major finishing her senior year at the University of Maryland College Park, as well as the Congressional Hunger Center’s Operations Intern for spring 2017.
As I reflect on my time as the spring 2017 Leland International Hunger Fellows Program intern, I do not hesitate to say that the experience was very meaningful. I was able to support all aspects of the process for selecting the upcoming 9th class of Leland Fellows: among other things, I read and scored applications, scheduled and sat in on interviews, served as the main point of contact for applicants, and called candidate references. Each step gave me insight into how such processes work, as it was my first time on the side receiving applications rather than submitting one myself. Of course there were many challenges along the way. The Leland selection process for this cycle was completely remodeled from past cycles, so at times it was difficult to navigate the new system. Regardless, fellows and placements are now falling into place.
My favorite part of this whole process is when candidates excitedly accept a fellowship offer. Each of these new fellows is so driven and passionate about making a difference in the world. I’m both inspired by them and happy that I could help them a little along the way. Ample amounts of thought and effort are put into choosing the best-fit class, and I have so much respect for Emily, the Leland Program director and my supervisor, for all the hard work she does.
More generally, as an intern I developed many skills. For one, I improved my communications skills. By speaking in person with Emily, over the phone with a reference, or via email with a candidate, I learned how to communicate effectively and in a professional manner. Additionally, I was able to work on time management and multitasking. I often found myself juggling multiple tasks and learned how to prioritize to get the most done while ensuring it was of good quality.
I also received valuable insight about the international development field as a whole. One of the new additions to the selections process this year was a virtual group discussion. In seven groups of five or six, candidates discussed two questions (while we observed with our camera and sound off). The questions were: “What three recommendations you would give to someone who wants to work in international development? What constraints or other factors would make following each recommendation difficult?” The goal was to get them to work together to reach a collective conclusion by the end of 30 minutes. As an International Affairs major who wants to work in international development, I really benefited from hearing their thoughts. Some that stuck with me are: (1) work with, not for, people; (2) always self-reflect and examine your motivations; and (3) work towards obsolescence. At the end of the round, I typed up each groups’ recommendations and sent the compilation to all the participant candidates. Although I may have written the document for the applicants, I also printed a copy for myself. I know I’ll keep it close to me as I continue on my journey, just like my time here at the Congressional Hunger Center.
Stephanie Jamilla is a sophomore International Affairs major finishing her sophomore year at The George Washington University, as well as the Hunger Center’s Leland International Hunger Fellows Program Intern for spring 2017.