Summer Fun, Get Stuff Done

Evon Hung and Sarah Markiewicz

Summer is a preferable time for leisure and recreation, but it is also an opportunity to obtain internships and volunteer work. Last summer, seniors Savannah Tan, Mandy Lai, and sophomore Kevin Lee opted for a productive summer by contributing to local organizations. For those looking into internships, here are three examples of Diamond Bar High School students’ positive work experiences.

To fulfill her Brahma Tech Academy requirements, Tan worked as an intern at Kaiser Permanente last summer. She developed an early interest in the medical field while observing situations in hospital Emergency Rooms and wanted to experience medical field from a doctor’s perspective. When Tan searched for internships, she knew she wanted to work in that particular field and looked into Kaiser for an opportunity.

“I found the Kaiser Permanente Summer Youth Program online and emailed the program coordinator about my interest in the program,” Tan said via Facebook. After submitting her applications, she underwent a group interview process and was accepted into the program.

In her internship, Tan was stationed in the Psychiatry Department, completing multiple projects including the operation and patient data entry of the POINT system, an online computer program.

“I was able to record patients’ progress after they completed the Intensive Outpatient Program at either one of the four Psychiatry Department locations in Orange County.” Tan said. She recorded class locations, attendance dates, and patients’ diagnosis, which were the most interesting parts of the project.

In addition to data entry, Tan compiled binders of documents with information on various topics ranging from diagnoses to employee training. She had a chance to work with the autism team, designing worksheets and organizing lesson plans, and was even able to help rewrite a Children Training didactic for a class one of the psychiatrists had.

Throughout her internship, the most exciting and interesting aspect of Tan’s experience was the “Education Days,” occurring every Wednesday of each week. On these days, speakers came in to talk to the interns about their career at Kaiser Permanente. The stories, some full of wit and others serious and inspiring, captivated Tan and put her perspective of the medical field in a different light.

“At the Education Days, I learned about the different backgrounds that the doctors came from … They were very modest about their accomplishments, but their speeches really inspired me and further encouraged me to pursue a job in this field.” Tan said. She was exposed to a large array of career options that she previously had no knowledge of before.

Though Tan was initially placed in the Psychiatry Department of Kaiser, her position was flexible, and she worked with different people in other departments including psychiatrists, office clerks, and office managers.

“Many stopped by and took time out of their day to chat with me, which made me feel more comfortable around the office.” Tan said.

However, Tan didn’t work with other interns, who were stationed at different departments. The only time when she was able to communicate with them were during Education Days.

The most challenging and tiring part of Tan’s experience entailed the eight hour work shifts that she was previously unaccustomed to.

“I had no idea, but eight hours is a really long period to be sitting and walking around in an office, working,” Tan said. “Luckily, through this internship, I was able to experience for myself the real working world at an early age so that I can be accustomed to it and be prepared for it in the future.”

For those scoping for internships, Tan advises to keep a positive mindset and to look for a field that you’re interested in.

Senior Many Lai, on the other hand, found her internship through the Miss Teen Taiwan pageant.

Whilst attending a 2013 New Year’s event for the pageant, she met Dr. Wu, one of the five directors of Walnut Valley Water District, who recommended that she try out for the internship program. After a simple application and interview process, she was admitted.

“There were two jobs: clergy office work and physical field work; I worked in both,” Lai said. “I went from opening fire hydrants to visiting water recyclable sites to washing cars.”

For office work, Lai worked at the two buildings on the WVWD site, performing secretarial tasks such as scanning and shredding documents. Clerical work provided shelter from the heat, but she preferred field work over the latter.

Field work wasn’t limited to just the sectioned WVWD grounds. Lai had the opportunity to drive around the community with several of the employees to residential areas and large water tank locations to monitor specific measurements for the community’s water consumption.

Throughout her summer internship, Lai mostly worked alone; it was not common to work jobs with another interns. Instead of befriending peers, Lai built relationships with the other employees.

“My favorite part of the experience was simply talking to the people I worked with,” Lai enthused. “They’re all chill and so relatable, and it was nice to talk with them like that.”

Lai applied for the internship again this summer and hopes to work at WVWD once more. To other applicants or internship-seekers, Lai stresses that communication is key.

“There’s really no way for them to distinguish you from another applicant – that’s why having connections is so important.” Lai said. “Just go into the offices and talk to the employees; be interested and personal. If they like you, it’s more likely you’ll get the internship.”

Lai’s experience is one of many others who interned at various organizations and businesses around the community, including Kevin Lee, a sophomore who volunteers at the fire department.

Lee has been involved with the fire department since the end of eighth grade through connections with a family friend. This friend had also been an intern who gained positions in the ranks until he became a captain. When Lee turned 13, he gave his friend a call and began training for his work at the fire department.

“It was more of a textbook thing,” Lee said in regards to his training. “You have to learn the material, compared to learning how to fight fires.” A volunteer must be at least 21 years of age in order to help put out a blaze.

Lee started out by participating once a month, and from then on, he began working twice a week on average. Currently, he works on-demand and goes in whenever he receives a call. Lee’s work includes assisting the other firemen by making breakfast for them and cleaning the tanks. So far, Lee claims that his greatest obstacle has been his busy schedule.

“I’m trying to switch divisions to teaching fire instructional classes compared to being on demand because my schedule is getting tougher and tougher.”

However, Lee doesn’t plan on letting his work as a firefighter decline because of his involvement with school. “With this job, you have to be in it for the long run. You have to understand that you’re not in it for say, the college applications.”