Vivian Kim is a rising third year at the University of Virginia, pursuing a double major in Chinese and Foreign Affairs. This summer she worked on various projects with the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Services.
What major projects are you working on in your internship? What responsibilities are you most excited about and why?
This summer, I interned for USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Services in their TM – Grants Division. I was really fortunate to have phenomenal supervisors that gave me engaging work. Though I hadn’t had much experience in grants management, they entrusted me with a great deal of responsibility and were very supportive along the way. Throughout my time at the USDA, they stressed challenging me and providing me with a learning experience. — My two main projects were to conduct preliminary review for Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) applications and to compile a report reflecting the impact of SCBGP in past years.
Reviewing SCBGP applications gave me exposure to federal grants management and the different regulations that determine what federal tax dollars can and cannot go toward. Understanding the meticulous work that goes into approving these applications, I gained a lot of respect for the people that I worked with and for those in public service who often work without recognition to provide Americans with such opportunities. Because I’m big on “practicality” and “application of knowledge,” it was really exciting to see how grants could be applied to all sectors, and to have an understanding of something that others might not know too much about. I also enjoyed seeing another side of marketing — how the government provides resources and funding to encourage market growth.
My other project, the data report for SCBGP, was exciting in that its potential impact was very relevant. The new administration slashed funds for FY 2018’s Farm Bill (to the point where someone I met over the summer from Washington Post described it as “Farmageddon”) and subsequently zero-ed out SCBGP. This report would help advocate for program and for continuing to provide federal funding for hundreds of agriculture projects each year. You can read more about it here.
When did you realize you wanted to explore public service?
Since middle school, I’ve been heavily involved in community service and Student Council related activities. I’ve always found joy in approaching my involvements as a way to serve my peers, — serving them through advocating on their behalf, addressing their concerns and providing them with resources. In application to a future career, I find that public service would best allow me to serve others in a similar fashion. I don’t think that there was ever a stark moment of realizing that I wanted to go into public service, but I think as I consider my personal background and gain more exposure to the public sector, my interest in learning more is ever growing. Even through CAPAL, learning about the lack of AANHPI representation in these areas has been eye-opening.
What are your plans/goals after this internship? Are there any goals you want to accomplish this summer?
My goal during my internship was to “make the most out of the opportunity.” Considering how much I learned and how much more confident I feel in professional settings now, I think I really have gained a lot through CAPAL. Not only in knowledge about career fields abroad, but in life skills, — I’ve realized the importance of being teachable and appreciative.
My goal now is to take what I’ve learned over the summer and put it to use. On a larger scale, I’d like to take the information and career advice I’ve gained, and share it with underclassmen and friends. On an individual level, I want to hone in on certain skills, remain in contact with people I’ve met, and work on self-branding to communicate my interests in the future. I’ve realized this summer that if I want to go into international relations and trade concerning China, I should pursue skills and knowledge in that area rather than being all over the place in my interests. My next action item: reassessing what I’m involved in and challenging myself to develop skills that I haven’t yet perfected.
Other goals after this internship? I’d like to help save the bees. Bees are very important. #savethebees
What is something that most people would not know about you?
Most people who know me already know this but — I grew up in Northern Virginia until my family moved to China in the 10th grade. I spent three years there during high school which ultimately has been the driving force of my interest in international trade and the Chinese language. I think people often find the fact that I speak Chinese better than I speak Korean, yet am Korean-American a little confusing.
If you’re really looking for something that people don’t know about me: I tried to teach myself how to yodel in middle school. — Express ordered a book with CD off of Amazon and everything!
Advice for those who want to apply to CAPAL?
Do apply! When I first applied I didn’t know too much about the program, but I’m really grateful for the opportunities, skills, and connections I’ve gained from CAPAL this summer. I feel like I’ve grown exponentially just through exposure and living a slightly more professional day-to-day life. If you seek to make the most out of it and ask questions, you will gain a lot. For me, I wanted to learn more about China trade and US-DPRK foreign policy. During my time with CAPAL, I got to sit down with experts in these areas and learn about the US-China Beef agreement. (That’s a $2.5 billion dollar market that hasn’t been open since 2004!)
Also – if you’re not too well versed in AANHPI issues, don’t let that deter from applying. There’s a lot to learn about our community and what advocacy looks like, theres a lot that I didn’t understand prior to coming in. I found that the activities our cohort participated in helped create dialogue and allowed us to realize commonalities that we face. Though the way people identify with Asian American identity might differ, it’s a wonderful thing to have the space to explore identity, hear the issues we face, and decide for yourself.
If you have any questions, find me on Facebook and don’t hesitate to ask! More than happy to answer any questions about my experience with the program.
Meet all of our CAPAL Scholars & Interns here.
Felicia Wong is a recent graduate from the College of William & Mary, where she double majored in Neuroscience and Asian American Studies and led the Filipino American Student Association and Global Medical Brigades chapters on campus. She was part of the CAPAL Scholars & Interns Class of 2016, and she hopes to continue the mission that inspired her to connect her interests in healthcare with the community she found in her cultural background and teachings. Felicia has been involved with a variety of media projects affording visibility to minority communities, her most recent project centering on a video for #AAPIs4BLM. Having lived in Germany for most of her childhood, Felicia makes regular trips back to visit her family, providing opportunities for her to indulge in her greatest joys: eating vanilla ice cream with hot raspberry sauce, taking fashion cues from strangers, cooking with her family. Non-country specific pleasures include: biking, music-browsing, RuPaul-fangirling. felicia.wong [at] capal [dot] org