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Internship Reflection





Hello there! I am Sunny Garcia; a Senior International Studies major from UC Irvine.

Passionate Educator and Performer.

I had the opportunity to spend 11 weeks in DC, interning and learning about our nation’s capital. Before arriving in DC, I went through the wonderful process of searching...and applying…for the perfect Internship. My search took me to IEL. I can’t be thankful enough for the opportunity I had interning with the Education Policy Fellowship Program. It’s great to hear you are interested in EPFP and I hope sharing my experience will assist you in finding the best internship!


Two-screens is standard at IEL!





En Español: Estoy agradecidó por la experiencia trabajando con EPFP. En EPFP mi trabajo fue principalmente ayudando preparar para el 53rd Washington Policy Seminar. Todos los proyectos que hice - escribir y editar los materiales del programa, medios de comunicación social, entrada de datos, actualizando los datos del sitio web de EPFP - todo tenía peso y era importante para la funcionalidad de EPFP y WPS. Realmente sentí que el trabajo que hice fue significo para el programa. Cada miembro del equipo tomaría mi opinión en consideración, mi opinión importo. Cuando no estaba trabajando en proyectos de WPS o EPFP, tenía chanza atender seminarios de educación y oportunidades para ayudar en otros proyectos del IEL (Coalition for Community Schools and Family and Community Engagement). Las actividades que me parecieron más interesantes fueron las que me dieron la oportunidad de hacer contactos con varias personas de diferentes campos de la educación. Trabajando con IEL es una experiencia emocionante y estimulante, la organización tiene personas que están listo de ayudar te. IEL no es una oficina tradicional y lo digo de una buena manera. Realmente IEL te da la oportunidad de abrir y ampliar sus habilidades. Es genial que quieres aplicar y espero que mi experiencia te ayuda.

What brought you to IEL/EPFP?




The first- step was finding the perfect internship and there are two things that I am passionate about, performing arts and education. Throughout my four years at UC Irvine I've spent my time performing East Asian Traditional Arts and teaching English/Social Sciences through local internships.

I wanted to find an internship that would expand my skills. I decided to step out of my comfort zone, off stage and out of the classroom, and applied for a position in an office. Prior to DC, I had little experience with office culture and wanted to learn more about the inner-workings of non-profits. I took the opportunity to learn new skills and decided to find an organization that would allow me to learn about education policy. Although I had experience on the ground, in the classroom, I had no idea what was happening in education policy. IEL and EPFP offered the perfect mixture of what I wanted from an Internship, to work for an organization that wants to create an education system that provides equal opportunity and to develop a basic understanding of education policy, non-profits, and networking. 

Now I am confident that I have learned a bit more about our current education system, I can discuss ESSA with some detail, and am proud of the fact that I can say ESSA "correctly" in conversations (eh-sah). The biggest lesson I learned is that "Education policy is complicated"

How was your experience at IEL/EPFP?




 At IEL no one internship experience will be the same. As an intern with EPFP everyday brought new tasks and a new skill to learn. Before I began my time at IEL, I thought I would only be used for the "cliche" intern tasks, such as making phone calls, printing, mail, etc. Thankfully, my thoughts didn't match the experience. 

Since day one in the office,  I was an active member of the EPFP team, supporting the National Director of EPFP and the EPFP Program Coordinator. In the beginning, most of my tasks included helping prepare for the 53rd Washington Policy Seminar. Every project I was assigned - writing and editing program materials, tweeting, blogging, data entry, or updating the EPFP website content - it all had weight and mattered to the functionality of EPFP and WPS. I truly felt that the work I did was meaningful to the program. Each member of the team would take my input into consideration, my opinion mattered. In fact, I was surprised when individuals in a team meeting were expecting me to speak and contribute to the discussion, all in the first week at the office. 

When I was not working on WPS or EPFP related tasks, I had a wide variety of experiences at IEL. I attended educational seminars, forums, summits (hosted by IEL and outside organizations), weekly Brown Bag Lunches, and had opportunities to assist in other program projects at IEL (such as for the Coalition for Community Schools and the Family and Community Engagement team). 

What activities interested you the most?



The activities that I found the most interesting were those that gave me the opportunity to network with various individuals from different fields in education. It was great getting to meet with individuals who are passionate about influencing education policies. Working in the office can be exciting, but nothing beats the feeling of being on "site", where you can interact with the individuals the organization directly impacts. 

Activities that encouraged communications within the office were also interesting. It was inspiring to hear about the different experiences everyone has had. The interactions with the staff has opened my eyes to the various career paths I can pursue. The office promotes communication. It is encouraged to speak with others in the office and there is a common saying in the office: "Caffeinate and Collaborate". 

The activity I was the most proud of was the Washington Policy Seminar. Seeing how all the work and projects came together to create WPS was an invigorating feeling. It was fulfilling to see the EPFP Fellows and Coordinators have a wonderful experience and to see all the work I did come to fruition. WPS gave me the opportunity to network with individuals form various backgrounds in education. It was exciting getting to meet the Former Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. I never thought I would have the opportunity to joke and learn from such a wide variety of education professionals. 

What is your take away? What advice would you give anyone applying to intern at IEL?



Working at IEL is a challenging and stimulating experience, but the organization is led by caring individuals who are happy to give you the necessary support to excel in a variety of areas. The internship experience at EPFP reflects the three pillars the Fellowship focuses on - Policy, Leadership, and Networking. I interacted with Policy through the brown lunches, seminars, and opportunities for research. I gained Leadership skills through the lessons learned in the office and from interactions with my supervisor. For example, I improved my communications skills, learned to open-up and be more confident with my work and abilities. I participated in Networking through interactions in the office, with EPFP Fellows and Coordinators, and in the seminars I attended.

The great thing about IEL is that the organization provides you with the resources you need to accomplish any goal you have in DC. If you want to can! If you want to can! The list goes on. It is not a traditional office environment at IEL (and I say that in a good way). You are truly given the opportunity to open-up and expand your network and knowledge. 

Here is a bit of advice I learned through this experience: If you do not know how to do a certain task, ask for help, individuals in the office will be happy to help. Get to know what you are involving yourself in, ask about other programs in the office. If you hear something that interests you, especially if it involves another program, ask if you can learn more about it or how you can help. Your time at IEL will be great, but you will get what you search for from the experience. 


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