Internships Should be Accessible: #3

Okay, it’s time to get real. I’m an Asian-American woman and I’m proud, but being a person of color comes with a lot of discrimination too. A couple days ago I was sitting in a congressional hearing with more than 150 people and I counted four people of color. Two black men, one South Asian man, and me. This incident was both discouraging and encouraging: discouraging because you would think a government that runs a country that prides itself as a “melting pot” would be more representative of the people, but also encouraging because this is exactly why I want to be in politics. People that look like me need a voice. I want to be that voice.

I am a person that prides myself in being able to work with different people from different backgrounds. Sometimes though, I find myself being not able to relate to a lot of my white coworkers/colleagues because their experience is so… stress-free from mine. Another thing that’s been bothering me is the obvious socioeconomic class difference. I come from a low-income family and I’m self-sustaining in the sense that I make my own money, I pay my own rent, I pay for my own food, etc. It seems to me that a lot of the people in DC are very well off and can ask their parents for money whenever. Me– I’m living paycheck to paycheck.

Now I do want to point out that I’m really lucky to have a paid internship, but it also highlights the fact that a lot of unpaid internships are for the rich. Internships are not really accessible for students of color and low-income students. That’s why resources like the LSA Internship Scholarship are so important because it gives students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to take on internships to actually do what they want to do. I think UofM does a wonderful job of making internships accessible (even though there is always room for improvement everywhere). Other institutions should follow suit.

One thought on “Internships Should be Accessible: #3

  • August 14, 2018 at 8:48 am
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    I found your third post particularly powerful, Sion. I can understand how that congressional hearing was discouraging to you, with only four people of color being present in a group of 150. That level of inequality should not be the “norm” in a country that prides itself on its diversity and I strongly agree with you on that. That said, I love that you took something positive away from this experience as well, and I love the “can-do” attitude that you have in stating that you want to be a voice for other people of color. That post was particularly powerful too because I agree wholeheartedly on how financial inequality can impact the internship experience. As a first-generation student from a low-income family who is self-sustaining myself, I agree that the socioeconomic differences we face in internships (and in our school lives!) can be jarring at times. That said, I’m very grateful that our school has the LSA Internship Scholarship for that same reason, and I hope that other schools follow suit as well.

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