My First Week at SJ Vietnam

I started my internship at SJ Vietnam last week and have been very excited for my work there this summer. The first few days were filled with getting to know my workplace and the people I work with. I was impressed by the huge number of volunteers and part-time staff at SJ Vietnam and their commitment to the organization’s work. Besides volunteers and part-time partners, there are 9 full-time staff at the office, and they are extremely helpful and make me feel like part of a family. My supervisor walked me over the organization’s work and ongoing projects on the first day. During the next two days I had a chance to sit in the office’s midweek meeting and listened to our fundraising challenges. Then I started working on my first assigned project and my supervisor has been very helpful and supportive so far.

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SJ Vietnam started in 2004 aiming to connect international and Vietnamese volunteers to work with the most in-need communities in northern Vietnam. Throughout 10 years of endless work, the organization has brought more than 5000 volunteers worldwide and across the country to help children from low-income families access better education and proper health treatment. With its mission “Volunteering for sharing, learning and being responsible”, SJ Vietnam currently has 9 full-time staff in Hanoi office and 10 part-time program managers directing the organization’s work including programs in the National Pediatric Hospital, Fisher Village, and Youth House School to name a few.

During my 10 week- internship, I will work as an Impact Valuation Intern conducting research on the effectiveness of the organization’s ten ongoing projects using SJ Vietnam’s and the local authorities’ statistical data on the children and communities we serve. At the end of the internship, I will present a thorough analysis on the organization’s performance and implement recommended strategies to help improve the programs’ impact. I will also conduct weekly site visits to meet with volunteers and communities to gain a better understanding of the landscape of the nonprofit market in Vietnam and deepen my background in development work.

I knew for sure that I wanted to come back to Vietnam this summer to learn more about development. I started looking for NGOs and nonprofits and came up with a list of two hundred organizations doing development and humanitarian work. Narrowing my search to those focusing on either microfinance or education in the northern area, I finalized my list to twenty and started contacting their human resources departments. Among the 4 organizations I interviewed with, SJ Vietnam was seeking an intern who could conduct quantitative research on impact evaluation, a field that I had some experience in from my last internship. I chose SJ Vietnam because of their significant impact and my very helpful supervisor.

My goals for the summer are to apply my knowledge from my classes at Brandeis into real life work, improve my software skills such as STATA, Excel, PowerPoint, to learn more about non-profits and NGOs sector and the landscape of development work in Vietnam. Last but not least, I wish to give back to my home country and spend time with children to observe the different living and social conditions between Vietnamese and American children. Overall, I believe I will complete my tasks this summer and hope that I will leave giving a little help to SJ Vietnam.

– Trang Luu ’15

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