Summer Internships 2018

Engage. Reflect. Integrate. #DsonIntern

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A New One-day-at-work Experience

As mentioned in the previous post, this summer I came back to AhaMove, the technological delivery company I interned at last year, but with a different role and in a different department. Therefore, despite my previous experience working here, there still are several differences that I have felt, seen, and needed to adjust to. Among them, the most noticeable change is how a typical day at work of mine proceeds.

Last summer when I worked for the Operations department, which deals with the driver-side issues of the company (AhaMove has a two-party system to work with – Driver and Customer), my day would be quickly and easily filled up. Early in the morning I would assist the on-boarding team in registering and training new drivers. The job typically took up to 45 minutes with 30-minute rest between sessions, during which I would go back to my desk and practice my coding skills. After an one-and-a-half-hour lunch break I would divide my afternoon into two halfs, one for analytical work such as research and data-driven assessment of the company’s driver policies, and the other for telesales and driver recruitment tasks. Admittedly a day like that would go by quite fast and busy but, at the same time, also simple. I had lots of work to do but the jobs were pretty straightforward and clearly defined.

On the other hand, as a Data Analyst in the Business Intelligence department, things are not that apparent. Obviously there are tasks assigned by my supervisor and co-workers, but they are not many and half of what I do are not clearly laid out in front of me right at the beginning of the day like when I was in the Operations team. Like other Data Analysts in the team, my job is to provide useful insights into the company’s activities and suggestions to improve its operations. What information, therefore, can be considered useful? What problems the company is having besides those already known to other teams? What actions needed to resolve the issues? Because even the questions are not specific, the pathway and solutions therefore cannot be evident. We will need to talk to other teams, dig into our databases and look at numbers and data before knowing what we need to do.

This is the most visible differences I have perceived between my current job and the one I did last year at AhaMove. The benefits are obvious –  we are free to do what we like and when we like it. However, challenges also exist – we are required to provide “value”, in terms of useful data-driven information with practical and specific plans and actions, for the company. We have meeting only once a month, and our manager’s first question for each team-member in those meeting is always “What have you done this month”. Our great freedom does come with huge responsibility.

The two way of working, the clearly defined way and this one, both have up- and down-sides, but so far I think I prefer this “freedom” more. Admittedly it is stressful and ambiguous at times, but this way of working allows me to explore and learn more, to always critically question and dig deep into problems. Hopefully I can get as much as I can out of this opportunity in the next two months.

HGTV Week 2- Edit, Copy, and Managing Editorial

After an eventful week with HGTV involving having two of my ideas chosen to be featured in a September article, the lifestyle director complimenting my creative progress to the executive editor of the magazine, helping out with my first photo shoot, going on fabric runs, learning how to use Adobe Bridge to organize photos of products to be printed for presentation boards, and much more, I ended on a high note by attending my first of several “intern meetings.”  HGTV magazine organizes many informal discussions throughout the term that focus each time on a different department of the operation.  This first meeting was between me, the five other interns, and most of the staff that work in the edit, copy, and managing editorial departments.  They each described their job threads that led them to where they are now, as well as the roles each of them perform on a daily basis.  Not only was this meeting very informational, but it allowed me to get to know people who work for the magazine more personally.  I’ve detailed what I learned in this short hour below:

The lifestyle department had to photograph different vases and flow View from one of the conference areas

Copy/Research Department

At most magazines, these are two separate departments, but at HGTV they work together.  This department is responsible for making sure that the magazine has a consistent voice and that there are no grammar or factual errors.  They are the last eyes on every page of the magazine before it is sent out to the printer.  Often times, freelancers are hired to do that fact checking for major or technical features.

Managing Editors

Managing editors, known as MEs, help make sure everybody in every role knows and is part of a timeline and that everything gets done in time before the next step.  In addition to scheduling, they are in charge of legal contracts, licensing, tracking the production process, creating the ship schedule (the ship dates when the magazine is released to the printer), some partnerships (like for advertising purposes), and staffing.  The managing editors at HGTV do such an efficient job that most issues have a “rolling close,” which means that everything is done slightly early and doesn’t require late night cramming before the issue needs to be released to shipping.  Many of the employees in attendance at this meeting told us that it is really common at a lot of publications to be at the office until 3 in the morning the night before shipping, but this has never happened at HGTV.  HGTV magazine has also never had a late fine from Hearst, which occurs when there are major production delays.

Edit Team

The edit staff are simply the ones that make the copy (writing).  For larger features, they write the approved article and then send it to the art department for formatting.  For segments that have lots of photos and only small amounts of text here and there, the art department creates the layout and inputs dummy text.  Then, the edit team will write copy to fit the designated text areas.

Life Advice and General Information

Several of the staff members told us, including one person who is both an editorial assistant and the assistant to the editor-in-chief, that assistant jobs for “high up” employees are good first jobs because you have to make connections with everyone that needs to interact with the person you are creating schedules for and helping.  It’s a major networking boost.  In terms of affording to live in a major city like New York on a low-paying salary, they suggested selling your car if you have one, stacking up on roommates (a member of the Copy/Research department told us she once had 6 roommates in the city; one man who was sleeping on their couch for a few weeks is now an editor-in-chief of another magazine), and considering moving slightly outside of the city.

My first week of internship

With a significant advantage of working for a startup, I had a chance to have one-on-one meetings with the CEO of AhaMove and different managers of the departments that I would collaborate closely with, including Business Intelligence, Operations, Business Development and Marketing. Valuing the importance of connecting employees with the company’s mission, the CEO and managers spent a lot of time showing me the structure, daily activities and latest problems of each team in order to equip me with general knowledge of the company as well as the logistics industry. Not only did they mention the opportunities and challenges that the company has been facing but they also shared their experiences and lessons from which I could enrich my understanding of AhaMove. Since the Business Intelligence team plays a vital role in sustaining the supply-demand balance by helping AhaMove identify, develop and implement effective business strategies, a strong background in the operation of the company and each department within it will help me fulfill my responsibilities as a data analyst intern more efficiently. Indeed, to understand more deeply about the service that AhaMove provides as well as the recruiting process, I participated in a special training session for  new drivers and took an assessment test afterwards like other trainees. Along with different lessons learned from the professionals, I gained more insights of not only the company but also the logistics industry in Vietnam during the first week of the internship. Therefore, I am certain that AhaMove is an amazing workspace where I can grow both professionally and personally in the next three months.

Let The Research Begin

This week was chock-full of research. Currently Earth Day Network is working on the campaign ideas for 2020 being that it will be the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. So this whole week was dedicated to picking two countries and becoming an expert on what they are doing environmentally. I have been looking into Ecuador and Switzerland. These two countries are in very different spheres when it comes to their environmental impact. Ecuador has been known for burning their trash and the government said enough is enough and decided to create a landfill in order for the people to have a slightly better way to dispose of their waste. However, when the citizens heard of the idea to make a landfill, they protested stating that it would be bad for the environment. The government listened to this and decided it wasn’t best to have a landfill, sadly nothing has been changed and they are still burning their trash in order to be rid of their waste. On the other hand, there is Switzerland who have also been burning their trash. However, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Switzerland has found a way to burn their trash into renewable energy! Crazy right! Currently, with Earth Day Network, I am trying to reach out to government officials in Switzerland to get more of a word out about what it is Switzerland is doing with their waste and how to engage the rest of the world into using that system or some sort of version of it that works best for them.

As I continue with this project I hope to learn more about many different countries and I hope to be able to reach out to them in order to get them on board with our Earth Day 2020 campaign. Until next time blog viewers. And just as a final note, I’d like to say how incredibly grateful I am to have been given this opportunity to work in DC for the summer and it is truly thanks to the donors of the grant program at Dickinson that I am able to take part in this. I can’t wait to keep sharing the fun things I’ve been doing!

Calle de Felipe IV, 9

At DARA, office conversations are linguistically diverse in the best of ways. Mid-sentence, my colleagues will blend English, Spanish, and French – whether we’re gathered for Tuesday’s team meeting, someone’s reaching out over the phone to DARA staff members in another country, or one person is talking to another one across the room. This is just one aspect of the work environment on the fourth floor of Calle de Felipe IV, 9.

The DARA team does not exceed more than a handful of people at a time. Many more back up the work we do and a vast network of experts perform work on the field – in places ranging from Pakistan to Bolivia and from Haiti to the DRC –  that is at the heart of our humanitarian evaluations. Management and the board are close-knit, but extend across continents and partner organizations. All this makes for a distinct work culture fueled by generous levels of cooperation, simultaneous interdependence and self-reliance.

DARA occupies a very specific place in the humanitarian arena, that generally has little public exposure.  The vast majority of our work is directly commissioned by agencies like UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, DFID, ECHO, and others, but we remain a small organization that does not parallel the prominence of UN or government agencies. We have gained admission to a framework of similar nonprofit humanitarian organizations who conduct evaluations of the on-the-ground programs of the aforementioned agencies. At this very moment in time, we are finishing up our evaluation report of UNICEF’s response to Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, while drafting proposals for several new evaluations.

I work with colleagues who are stationed in Madrid and others who either travel regularly or are stationed elsewhere – like in our office in Washington, D.C. During the past two weeks and a half, I have worked heavily on preparing various presentation material for DARA’s Refugee Response Index. This has required collaborating with numerous people in trying to understand their vision for the RRI. On occasion, these visions do not overlap entirely and concessions must be made or discussions must be had to determine the best way to present a certain element of the project to a specific audience. I position myself as somewhat of an external weigh-in during such discussions, as a civil society member, as opposed to someone from within the NGO or humanitarian sector.

On our agenda for the next month are a UNHCR-convened NGO forum in Geneva, during which the RRI will be showcased, as well as a tentative meeting with experts in Thessaloniki. These events, and the sub-programming they will consist of, require a variety of approaches and methods of articulation, in a lot of which I happen to play a central role. At this time, I have reviewed proposals, drafts, correspondence, and have sat on meetings all related to the RRI so as to be able to understand what the most comprehensive, precise, and concise presentation of the RRI could look like.

Presentation and MatterBox Event!

This week was busy at Premier Sport Psychology! Our two teams of interns created and presented our Community Outreach Project proposals to some of the staff members. My team’s project consisted of hosting a free workshop to athletes in underprivileged areas of the Twin Cities. We wanted to spread some sports psychology knowledge and performance strategies to deserving athletes who may not be able to pay for Premier’s services typically.

Another exciting event this week was the whole office’s participation in a charity event hosted by the organization MatterBox! Our team competed with about 20 other companies that reside in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region. MatterBox is a Non-profit group that provides necessary funds/food/facilities for deserving populations all over the US and the world. In this event, the Summer Harvest for Kids, the goal of the competition was to pack 50 healthy snack-packs as quickly as possible. Each team competed head to head with one other team and the winners moved on. Our team won our first 2 rounds before we were eliminated. In all, the organization raised over $282,500! All in all, we had a great time giving back to the community and it was a great way to get to know some of my co-workers on a more personal level outside of the office.


Day 16: Kwibuka (Remembering)

Greetings all. As I wrap up my third full week with Aegis, there is a lot on my mind and heart. Last evening, Aegis hosted its annual Kwibuka (Remembering) event for its employees and friends, to honor victims and survivors of the genocide (many of whom work for or with Aegis). It was an honor to have been invited, being the only person in attendance whose life was not altered by the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. And as the citizen of a country that stood back and did nothing as hundreds of thousands were slaughtered, it was a moment of great contemplation on my place in the world as a privileged American.

Each attendee is given a white rose to lay on the mass graves in which 250,000 of their family, friends and loved ones lay.

The ceremony began in the court-yard, then moved to the mass graves, then the eternal flame, then the Peace School. From place to place, there was a time of silence and reflection. Once at the Peace School, the Kwibuka Ceremony officially began. Singers sang songs about their fallen loved ones. Survivors told stories about their lives before, after, and during the genocide. Politicians and soldiers gave encouragement and spoke of Rwanda’s bright future. It was a truly inspiring, but somber, place to be.

Procession stops at the eternal flame for a moment of silence.

Events such as Kwibuka remind us that the past is always part of the present and the future, something that can’t be ignored or forgotten no matter how ugly and tragic it was. Being an intern with an NGO like Aegis Trust, which is consistently striving to remember the past while also focusing on a brighter future, has taught me many lessons about the importance of acknowledging this aspect of life. I look forward to the many other life lessons I will learn in the rest of my time in Kigali.

Kwibuka 2018, 24 years after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

Tune in for blog #5 next Friday, June 22nd to learn about my experience fostering meaningful relationships as an intern and an American in Rwanda. Till then, feel free to browse this digital archive of my adventures:

Growing in Week 2

Planting and Planning

The garden at Fort View Apartments, after I worked to clean it up. (Same garden pictured in last week’s blog).

This week at Somerset, I finally got to get my hands dirty! After assessing most of the properties in my first week, I started to clean up some of the gardens to prep for gardening programs with the residents. Some gardens are well cared for, while some are underutilized, and I am working to find out why and how I can improve these gardens.

Residents at Urban Village Apartments take part in maintaining a bed of herbs.

I haven’t been alone in my efforts at every property to become engaged in the gardens. Here at Urban Village, there is an excited  group of residents who want to keep their garden beautiful and vibrant. They want to continue to plant more herbs, tomatoes, kale, and peppers. This group of residents is exciting to work with because they already a desire to supplement their diet with healthy, homegrown vegetables. If this attitude can be spread to other residents at other properties, to spread a knowledge and aptitude of growing vegetables, I will feel accomplished in my efforts.

The Food Security Map:

Gardening hasn’t been my only focus this week, however. After visiting all the properties in my first week,  I began to construct an interactive map that outlines the closest amenities to each property throughout D.C. I included the closest farmers market, grocery store, metro station, while also showing the convenience stores within the vicinity. This has been an interesting and enlightening way to learn about not only the properties, but also the city and area of D.C. and some of the issues its residents face.


Throughout the summer I hope to add more and more content to the map, while consistently improving the resources they have most readily available; their community gardens!


Week 2

Ciao amici,

In my second week on the internship, I had some equally interesting experiences. Monday June 11th was the beginning of the national Portugese-American heritage month, and in Massachusetts, June 11th in the statewide celebration day of Portugese-Americans and their heritage. If this surprises you, don’t sweat it- I had no idea either! When I got to the statehouse that morning, I could tell something was different. There was a lot of people all over the state house steps, a ton of people in uniform and many of the people high up in the state government such as the Lt. Governor were there as well. To my surprise, not only were there a lot of people out and about on the statehouse lawn, the president of Portugal and his delegation were being given a red carpet ceremonial welcome to Massachusetts that morning.

After I put my stuff down that morning, I went to the house chamber to see the president of Portugal, Mr. Manuel de Souza, give a speech to kick of the Portugese-American heritage month. He was a pretty powerful speaker- his English was great and he spoke in great length about the history of the diplomatic and cultural relationship between Portugal and the United States, quickly getting rid of his prepared speech after a minute or two to make sure that what he was saying was “from the heart.” It was good to hear that a country abroad still held a high esteem for the United States, its culture, government, and way of life, even in this age where a narrative of disdain and resentment supposedly dominates perspectives on the United States in European countries.  A progressive, he made mild references to the danger of populism, as he said it distorts the true perspectives of the populous. I’m not sure whether this was a direct stab at President Trump, but the very liberal Massachusetts legislators gave a round of applause for it anyway. He talked much about early Massachusetts history as well, and thanked Massachusetts for being the seed and birthplace of modern democracy, that in the last three hundred years, has spread throughout the world and accompanied widespread political freedoms, tolerance, respect for human rights and  cultural exchange.

At first I wondered, what is the Portugese president doing sitting in the Massachusetts house of Representatives- why isn’t he speaking in front of the US congress or meeting with the president while he is here? Turns out that those were not the objectives of his visit to the US. Apparently, of the 1.5 million Portugese-Americans living in the US, 700,000 of them live in Massachusetts. Also, Portugal was the first country to recognize American Independence from Great Britain-pretty cool. I will attach a photo from his speech that I took

.The man with the blue tie is President De Souza

About my internship at AhaMove

AhaMove is a prominent start-up in Vietnam that provides an Uber-like logistics service. Founded in 2015 with the mission of addressing inefficiency in the logistics sector and reducing the cost for consumers, AhaMove serves as a platform that connects drivers and consumers to facilitate the delivery of goods within in a short time at a reasonable price. Coupled with advances in technology, this platform not only simplifies different processes for drivers, but also allows consumers to easily track their orders and benefit from lower cost.

To create a cyber marketplace with equivalent stakeholders of both sides, the Business Intelligence team plays a vital role in sustaining the supply-demand balance by helping AhaMove identify, develop and implement effective business strategies. As a Data Analyst Intern of the department, I create daily key performance indicators and dashboards to track project/ department performance and help demonstrate how effectively the company is achieving key business objectives. Based on the manipulated data, I collaborate with other colleagues to design, analyze and automate models to increase interaction between customers and drivers with AhaMove. My responsibility also includes coordinating with different teams of the company to collect and analyze the data to assess the opportunities and challenges of the service that the company provides.

As a double major in Economics and Mathematics, I have always sought for an internship that aligns with my interests and allows me to apply the knowledge from Dickinson classes and experiences to a professional setting. After taking the course Probability and Statistics at Dickinson, I found my interest in working with numbers through different data analysis projects and decided to follow a statistical track. With my passion and determination to pursue a future career in data analysis, I believe that AhaMove is a professional workplace where I can enrich my understanding of this industry and nurture my potential to the fullest. Working at AhaMove gives me endless opportunities not only to apply my learning at Dickinson to real challenges but also to expose me to the nature of my desired career as a data analyst. I will be able to leverage my skills in data manipulation, mining and visualization for management. This would improve my quantitative reasoning skills as well as my background in certain programming languages, especially SQL. Along with the support of my supervisor and other colleagues, I will be able to engage in a fast-paced start-up environment, learn from the professionals and gain more insights in data analytics industry. Combined with my background in math, the internship at AhaMove will further strengthen my data analytical, technical and communication skills while exposing me to a data analysis career.

In a sharing economy with relentless changes, these skills and experiences will give me a competitive edge in career opportunities. Because data analysis is a rapidly growing and highly demanding field, only analysts exhibiting excellent standard statistical techniques and a sharp business mindset can stand out. Combined with my interest in working with numbers and desire to be a data analyst, interning at AhaMove will be a good preparation for my future career in data.

The office view from my desk