Justine Kim is a rising junior studying Social Policy and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University. This summer, she is a Communications Intern at the Center for the Study of Social Policy in Washington D.C.

What major projects are you working on in your internship? What responsibilities are you most excited about and why?

Rather than major projects, my responsibilities lie in assisting and creating routine communications materials for CSSP which include one pagers, social media, and copy editing. So far I have redesigned various materials for the organization and curated social media material for various social media outlets. As engaging as social media can be, I am most excited for the design aspect of being a Communications intern especially because a lot of Indesign skills take failing a couple times to finally get it down. Oddly enough this failure aspect of it is one of the most attractive parts of doing design.

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When did you realize you wanted to explore public service?

I tried to trace my passion for public service to a certain point or event in my life but I think that it was and is an evolution. I grew up with a basic awareness of the privilege in various parts of my identity but also knowing that as I get older, no one will ever think “Wow that Justine, she’s so American”. Also having grown up in the church, I have always felt the need to give back in some type of way and for the longest time I wanted to be a doctor and serve the same communities that my parents grew up in within the South Side of Chicago. The dream of being a doctor was quickly dashed when I realized that I didn’t have the will power to do collegiate physics or organic chemistry but the same desire to give my time back to the communities around me remained. But one thing that DC in particular has taught me is that there is no one way of being a part of this idea of “public service” so now I’m at the point where I know I want to explore public service, but the “How” is still missing. If you can find it, give me a holler.


What are your plans/ goals after this internship? Are there any goals you want to accomplish this summer?

In terms of immediate plans, I plan on weaning off of the two cups of coffee I drink daily because of my office’s Keurig and then going to Korea for a month before school starts up again in September. Finally having settled on my majors, I plan on going back to the capitalist factory that is my university and continuing my studies in Learning and Organizational Change and Asian American Studies. Having come into this summer and CAPAL with an open mind was the best thing I could have done for myself and moving forward I hope to further nurture and cultivate the relationships I’ve made through the program. Also I hope to eat as much Korean food in NoVa as much as I can because the Midwest is barren.

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What are you looking forward to in DC / where your internship is located?

Mostly I’m looking forward to working consistent hours during my tenure at the Center for the Study of Social Policy. It is so easy to get burnt out while at school and I hope that my experience in DC also brings me back to the foundation of my values and passions. When you live and breath the politics and issues that are discussed in DC, it is easy to get caught in everything that is wrong with our government and our communities however, I hope that this summer also shows me the bright spots of what’s going on around us.

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What is something that most people would not know about you?

I was classically trained in vocal music but only started vocal music after quitting the trumpet, violin, piano, drums, and one day of percussion. I also was on a Bhangra team for a hot sec but can’t dance so all I did was hold a banner.

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Any advice to those who want to apply to the CAPAL program/ go into public service?

Don’t get caught up in the politicking and the gilded image that often accompanies certain positions in public service. It’s easy to get caught up in the pressures and accomplishments of the people around you. More than anything define your success based on goals set based on your skills and achievements because if you compare yourself to the best of whatever area you’re going into, you’re limiting yourself to those person’s achievements. Lastly put your experiences into the context of the world and communities that surround you. There’s a growing conversation about the bubble that people are in and no one is ever not in a bubble. It’s impossible to know everyone and everything but it doesn’t hurt to contextualize your bubble with someone else’s.


Meet all of our CAPAL Scholars & Interns here.

Posted by Nattacha Munakata

Snapchat 8629752769901833151 181x300 CAPAL Intern Spotlight Justine Kim 17Nattacha Munakata is currently a rising sophomore at George Mason University, studying Community Health with a concentration in Clinical Science (Pre-med). On campus, she is Peer Health Advisor, working to raise awareness and educate students on health issues. She is also involved in TEDxGMU and Thai Student Association. Outside, she likes to volunteer for local organizations and events, such as the DC Sakura matsuri and her local FIRST robotics team. During her free time, she likes to watch Netflix dramas and explore new music.