A Close Look at Internships

Bao Nhia, MSC Student Life Intern

Throughout my college career, I have participated in a number of internships that have helped prepare me for my future career, learn about social issues impacting the Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, and engage with people who are active and driven to create change in their communities. These internships have shaped who I am and allowed me to grow intellectually and professionally. I spent my summer as an intern for CAUSE (Center for Asian American’s United for Self Empowerment) as a Leadership Academy intern. The goal of this internship program is to create young AAPI leaders who are civically engaged and politically aware to become the next generation of leaders at the forefront of California’s public arena.


As a CAUSE Leadership Academy intern, the following three take-aways have resonated with me the most:

1. Internships allow you to prepare for the working world.

At the beginning of my internship at the State Controllers Office, I was hesitant to pick up the phone because I felt I was unaware of the resources. However, I realized that if I never picked up the phone, I’d never learn. It took several tries to help the constituent right away, but I learned that it’s okay to ask for help if I am confused. After all, it’s better than giving someone false information. After accepting that, I researched about the types of resources my office offered and became more comfortable speaking with constituents. I learned that it is better to make a mistake as an intern now, than make a large mistake as a working professional. Also, I learned that failure is the best way to grow, not only as an intern, but as an individual.

Photo Courtesy of: Albert Liu Photography

Albert Liu Photography

2. Internships allow you to explore a different city.

I would encourage others to find internships away from home. Los Angeles is such an amazing city that really allowed me to explore who I am. During my time off as an intern, I explored the fascinating culture of LA. The authenticity and variety of ethnic cuisine at food trucks and restaurants were satisfying and reflective of such a diverse city. From $1 taco trucks to Korean BBQ and ramen houses, the list was endless and kept me hungry for more. There are so many beautiful locations that I enjoyed visiting, especially the Griffith Observatory, which provides a breathtaking view of LA in the evening. I also enjoyed a movie screening in LA’s festive outdoors. But most of all, I enjoyed meeting the people of LA who made my summer. These individuals encourage me and support me in my goals. Most of all, they believe in me. The CAUSE staff is family to me and the interns and I have created long-lasting friendships. I took more initiative to learn about myself when I was able to fully separate from my comfortable setting at home in the Midwest.

Albert Liu Photography

Albert Liu Photography

3. Internships allow you to challenge yourself. 

Some people have asked me why I wanted to do an internship all the way out in LA rather than the Midwest. I explain to them that as a Hmong woman, I want to challenge gender roles and traditional cultural norms. No one ever asks a Hmong girl who she wants to be when she grows up. No one ever asks her about her goals and dreams. Packing my bags and moving to LA for the summer was a big step for me, but also one that I wanted to prove to myself and the Hmong community. I want to illustrate that, as a Hmong woman, it’s okay to be ambitious and have dreams. It’s okay to travel and move away from home. And it’s definitely okay to be who you are for yourself and no one else.

            Participating in internships has challenged me and allowed me to grow. I would encourage anyone to apply for internships, especially out-of-state, but the response I often receive is, “But it’s so expensive.” Luckily, there are campus resources that financially support students while they are participating in internships. The International Internship Program (IIP) and L&S Internship Scholarship are the two resources that helped assist me financially during my summer internship in LA. Many students think that IIP is only for international internships, but IIP also funds domestic internships as well. I received a $200 travel grant from IIP and in return I am helping them with outreach this semester by tabling for events and sharing photos of my experience on social media. I received a $5,000 scholarship from the L&S Internship Scholarship and had to complete an online 1-credit summer course during my internship. The course was more of an online journal that became very beneficial for self-reflection on my experience. I am so grateful to have received financial assistance from both of these programs and would not have been able to enjoy my summer in LA without their support.

Interested in learning more about internships? The MSC is hosting a series of internship and professional development events this semester:

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2014 MCOR Roundup

MCOR 2014 Poster_Final

Over the last weekend the MSC had the opportunity to host its annual, and heavily attended Multicultural Student Orientation and Reception (MCOR). On Friday September 5th, we celebrated all of our returns to campus in the original home of MCOR at the newly remodeled Memorial Union. The evening kicked off with a Campus Resource Fair in Tripp Commons at 5:30, where students were able to get information from several different Professional and Academic resources on campus about the services and opportunities that they offer. For even more pictures from the events and the performances, visit facebook.com/uwmulticultural


Multicultural Student Center (MSC) Interns Eric, Hiwot & Daisy staffing the MSC resource table.


MSC Intern Learesi discusses upcoming programs with two students at the student resource fair.

From there we took a trip into the newly remodeled Shannon Hall for a collection of performances by student groups with a wide variety of talents. From musical performances to cultural dances, the performances were impressive and well appreciated by the audience. The event was hosted by students Steven Rodriguez and Nailah Frye, and also included appearances by MSC Director Joshua Moon Johnson, Dean Lori Berquam, Vice Provost Patrick Sims, and University Chief of Police Susan Riseling.


Students engage in an impromptu hip hop battle up on stage.


The Wisconsin Surma dance crew performaing at MCOR 2014.

Below is a list of all the groups that performed:
• The BellHops
• Dancas Dance Club
• School of Bhangra
• University Gospel Choir
• REPLAY: HASA Dance Crew
• Wisconsin Surma

We left the performances hungry for more, and while the organized entertainment was over for the time being, guests had their appetites for more filled with the second best form of entertainment besides incredible performers. Food. The R in MCOR truly embodied the statement last but not least. As the last letter in the acronym one may think that it was less important than the other elements of the event. However, our guests were heavily receptive to the spread provided by the Wisconsin Union Catering. Lines stretched out the door and around the corner, all the way back to what else but more fun? During the reception our guests had the opportunity to dress up and get their photos taken in a photo booth with their friends, as well as explore the Great Hall and see all the tables at the Student Organization Fair. This event had an incredible turnout and was densely populated as students milled about learning more about Multicultural Student Orgs and how they can get involved in more communities on campus.


A lively discussion at the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity booth at the Student Org Fair in Great Hall, Memorial Union.


Student Org Fair in Great Hall, Memorial Union.

After food, friends, and entertainment there wasn’t much else we could ask of our guests except to dance their hearts out. From 10:30 to 1:00am in the new Playcircle Theatre we opened up the stage to some awesome First Wave performers and a DJ to allow the celebration to continue for those who wanted to burn the midnight oil.

Overall, the event was a great success and we anticipate a great year for all of our students and organizations. Be sure to come by anytime during our open hours to say hello or find a quiet place to study. And definitely take the chance to come to one or many of the plethora of events we will be putting on this semester!

The full calendar for MSC events, Fall 2014.

The full calendar for MSC events, Fall 2014.