After housekeeping and lunch, Ms. Chiling Tong, Founder and CEO of ILF, gave an inspiring talk also based on her own experiences in the state and federal government agencies. “Although the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is doing well professionally, our influence is weak,” recounted Ms. Tong. “That’s why you have to make yourself worthy of people’s attention” and represent and promote the AAPI community.
The 2015 ILF Fellows—most of whom have limited experience working in a federal agency—received tips on the best approaches to their new summer internship .
“I want you to focus on the most important thing: your grounding.” Mr. Hinson’s speech focused on cultivating personality traits and professional mannerisms that will carry Fellows forward and help them excel in their internship. “Arrogance is a relationship destroyer, and insensitivity—especially involving ‘me, my, and I’—will destroy your opportunities.” Mr. Hinson also mentioned the need to develop an ability to listen. “The world doesn’t revolve around you. No one follows an a******, the ‘me, my, and I’ person, or someone who can’t listen.”
“Success is hard. You have to work hard for it,” concluded Mr. Hinson as they transitioned to the next speaker, Mr. Hank Chao, ILF Washington D.C. Chapter Advisory Board member. Mr. Chao, who recounted his personal story as an immigrant who came to the U.S. in his twenties while barely speaking English, embodied the theme of “hard work will pay off.” Mr. Chao is now a project manager with Verizon and served on the Virginia State Board for Community Colleges from 2007 to 2013, where he once was a student at Northern Virginia Community College.
Ms. Piyachat Terrell, National Program Manager for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recounted anecdotes of her former interns, many of whom came from challenging backgrounds but were able to overcome barriers and succeed. “I’m not just learning from my colleagues; I’m also learning a lot from you all,” said Ms. Terrell.
The Orientation Training concluded with an ILF Fellow Alumni panel, which consisted of Ms. Tonia Bui, Senior Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, moderator of the panel, and 2006 Fellow; Mr. David DyTang, Operations & Logistics Manager at Uber and 2011 Fellow; Ms. Michelle Cho, second-year Master of Public Policy Candidate at the University of Virginia and 2013 Fellow; Mr. Alex Wu, Associate Director of the White House Office of Management & Administration, Tank Officer with the United States Marine Corps Reserve, and 2013 and 2014 Dr. John B. Tsu Fellow; Mr. Michael Wu, Criminal Investigator at the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General and 2011 Dr. John B. Tsu Fellow; and Jacqueline Jin, Program Administrator at the U.S. Department of State and 2013 Fellow.
The alumni offered insight into their own fellowship experiences and gave pointers on taking advantage of their placements and Washington D.C. itself to make the most out of the ILF Fellowship. “Be proactive; reach out to your supervisor to see if they have any projects they can give to you,” advised Ms. Cho and Ms. Jin. “Knowing what you want to get out of the internship is important in order for you to learn and grow.”
Finally, all panelists emphasized the need to network. “Networking is essentially making friends,” said the panelists. “You have a built-in network here with the ILF Fellows. Networking is about building genuine relationships with others, which can take you far later on in your life.”