Lessons from My Summer Internship at the Women’s Community Clinic

by Li Juan Chen, Spring 2017 Braven Fellow at SJSU

1This summer, I spent my Friday afternoons at the Women’s Community Clinic. Women’s Community Clinic (WCC) is a non-profit clinic located in San Francisco Bay area. WCC’s mission is simply ‘to improve the health and well-being of women and girls’. They are focused in providing preventative care and health education to women of all walks of life.

Who would have known that this summer I would again find myself at the clinic? This time, however, I was the confident Client Service Coordinator.

Thus far, my experience has been wonderful and enlightening. I have learned three main things during my internship:

  1.       Soft skills are just as important as hard skills

Although I played a small role in the function of the entire clinic, my experience was invaluable to the pursuit of my career. In addition to the hard skills I’ve learned, I found that the soft skills of communication and collaboration were just as important, if not more.

These days, employers are not only looking for individuals with a degree, but also the ability to engage positively with people.   At the WCC, the soft skills I’ve gained stem from living out WCC’s core values: harm reduction, client-centered care, and cultural inclusion. By upholding WCC’s standard of care, I become more conscious of valuing difference, practicing cultural humility through my actions, and building awareness of both my verbal and nonverbal communication and how that impacts others.

  1.       Don’t be intimidated to apply

When applying for an internship, a long list of requirements can look intimidating. However, my  rule of thumb is if you fit 60% of those requirements, then you are good to apply. The point of an internship is to gain more experience for your potential career, so take a chance! Internships can help set the foundation of your career and help you  demonstrate  a strong work ethic and learn applicable hard and soft skills.

At the end of the day, there is absolutely nothing to lose from simply applying. Worst case scenario, they will say, “no”. At that point, you can simply reply with “thank you for your consideration” and move on to the next opportunity. I’m so thankful that I applied, or I wouldn’t have had this great summer experience.

  1.       Choose passion and inspiration over obligation

There is so much pressure to land an internship these days, but don’t let the pressure and competition for internships cloud the reason why you wanted an internship in the first place – for your own personal growth. Whenever you come across an opportunity, ask yourself, “Am I interested because someone else is telling me I should be interested? Or am I genuinely interested because I find the internship appealing with an opportunity to grow?” Interviewers can tell between a genuinely interested candidate versus someone who is just using it as a resume booster. Personally, I felt obligated to get an internship since everyone else around me had one, so I applied to many places.  But when I reflected about what I cared about and who made a difference in my life, I decided to apply at the WCC and am forever grateful for the experience.

Now that I am apart of WCC as an intern, I’m even more passionate about women’s reproductive health and wellness. I am inspired daily by my colleagues who are pursuing medical school and masters of public health or nursing. I am blessed to be apart of a cohort of women who deeply care about health and wellness.

In summary, internships are supposed to be an experience that help you gain a strong foundation for your career and I am incredibly thankful to have the opportunity to build that foundation at the WCC. I hope my story serves as inspiration to any of you who are questioning whether or not you should apply, or what you will gain. Take a leap of faith, you won’t regret it.