Many college students, most often rising seniors, experience a sense of dread and uncertainty when asked if they have a job opportunity lined up once their college career comes to a close. Those who manage to secure permanent employment post graduation attribute their success to participating in internships and volunteer opportunities. Prior experience is highly desirable to many employers in today’s work environment, so it comes as no surprise that internships present themselves as promising opportunities for students to secure a foothold later on in their job search.
ABCD’s own Xiaoe Ma is a shining example of the impact an internship can have on a student’s career path. As a rising senior pursuing her Bachelor’s in Social Work at Salem State University, she was placed at the East Boston Area Planning Action Council (APAC) as a Social Work Intern in 2015 to fulfill credit hours to complete her degree. While placed at East Boston APAC, she was introduced to a caseload of clients and assisted them in various capacities, such as completing fuel assistance applications, aiding in their job search, and connecting them to other agencies and resources. During her internship, Xiaoe gained valuable insight to ABCD’s operational model, the services provided, and the clients we serve – all of which aided in her securing a permanent position with ABCD after graduation.
Now a Case Manager at the South End Neighborhood Service Center (NSC), Xiaoe is performing some of the tasks she performed as an intern, and has added new skills to her repertoire related to new services available to South End clients such as the food pantry and preparing taxes. She even became a Tax Site Coordinator during the 2015 tax season through ABCD’s VITA program. She is a valuable staff member not only because of her prior knowledge and experience with ABCD programs, but also due to her fluency with Mandarin and Cantonese. Her presence at the site has greatly benefited the large Chinese-speaking community of the South End, who are glad to have someone assist them in their native tongue. The South End NSC has seen a dramatic increase in the number of Chinese clients since Xiaoe’s arrival – an estimated 60-70% of the approximately 1,000 clients they serve every month are Chinese-speaking.
When asked about the importance of volunteering and interning, Xiaoe stresses that volunteerism can greatly improve an individual’s outlook on life. “[Volunteering] makes you feel like you are contributing something to the community, and you feel great.” She notes that even some of the clients that receive services at the South End recognize the importance of giving back, and have expressed interest in volunteering: “They want to help, they want to contribute.” In addition to an increased connection with a given population or community, Xiaoe has proved that interning is a great way for one forge a path to a career opportunity.
If you are interested in volunteer or internship opportunities at ABCD, please contact Madeline Eleazar, Volunteer Coordinator at (617) 348-6591.