Hien Pham may be a Vietnamese student studying for a degree at an American college, but she’s taking advantage of every opportunity afforded her to pave the way to a future job. At Keuka College one of those opportunities is Field Period, the 140-hour internship in real-world workplaces that each Keuka undergraduate conducts each year.
Pham hails from Hue City, Vietnam, and studied at Vietnam National University (ISVNU) in Hanoi, a partner school to Keuka, before transferring to the home campus in Keuka Park last year. With a business management major and a communications minor, the senior put multiple skills to use in January for Action for Boston Community Development Inc. (ABCD), a non-profit agency that provides a range of services to low-income families, including minorities and internationals.
During her four weeks at the Dorchester City neighborhood branch, Pham used her graphic design skills to create a four-page branch newsletter, which showcases numerous programs and offerings for the many Asian and African-American families served by ABCD. She also drew and painted a large banner of Rosa Parks’ bus to hang on a center wall for children to add names of famous Black Americans during Black History Month in February.
“Before this, I knew I had a little bit of ability designing, but I didn’t get many chances to do that. Now that I’m getting into InDesign (an graphic design software), it’s kind of what I want to do in the future – communications and media arts, marketing stuff.”
Pham also recorded phone greetings in Vietnamese to accompany the English, Chinese and Spanish options already available, and did some translation work, putting some Dorchester center materials into her native tongue to serve Vietnamese families living in that area. In her final week, she worked directly with clients, incorporating the information she had learned, to present service options to those in need.
“There were a lot of issues,” Pham said, describing everything from food stamp assistance and tax reporting, to after-school programs for children that provide help with homework and physical exercise.
Pham said her dream is to work for UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund) in Africa, using her communication and design skills, perhaps through a communications division of the service organization.
“They have a big organization, the TAP project, that operates in UNICEF that goes into the rural areas to people there, bring them clean water, educate them how to use clean water and [prevent] pregnancy and things. Working with the kids, too, especially for events planning … I really want to do that,” Pham said.
To that end, she conducted a Field Period last summer with a group known as Class Action, which raises awareness among university students about the health and human service needs of the very poor and social class divisions worldwide. Class Action meets those goals primarily through special events and social media, Pham said.
Pham plans to pursue a master’s degree after graduation, and said she recently discovered a graduate school near Boston that offers a one-year program in global communications and marketing, which may also incorporate elements of human resources.
“I want to work globally,” she said, “and not just stay in the same place.”