2012 PFIG Recipient Paige Kimbel
College of Arts & Sciences
Foreign Affairs and Spanish Major
2013 Graduation Year
Internship: International Justice Mission
Notes on the first week
A mix of accents from different states and different countries flooded my ears as I arrived for Day 1 of my summer internship. A group of law students from Australia. A grad student studying social work from Maryland. An "Aggie" from Texas. Questions flew around the room such as, "What country are you going to?" "Which department will be you in?" "What brought you here?" all curious to learn each other's stories of how we ended up at Training Week for International Justice Mission.
International Justice Mission (IJM) is a non-profit organization committed to rescuing victims of violent oppression in other countries by working with local law enforcement to secure justice. This includes rescuing young girls from brothels in Cambodia, restoring widows to their rightful land in Uganda, and freeing innocent men from prisons in Kenya. Their 15 field offices around the world bring justice to a broken world by assisting local law enforcement officials to enforce their preexisting laws. The ultimate goal is to transform the local law structures so more criminals are convicted, deterring future violence and protecting innocent children, women, and men. I invite you to learn more about IJM at www.ijm.org.
What surprised me most about training week was that my training class of 74 included summer Headquarters interns, international interns and fellows committing a year or more, and full time staff joining the IJM team. Throughout the week, we heard from Gary Haugen (founder and President of IJM), VPs of departments, and various other staff members. As we learned about strategic plans, organizational structures, and justice operations, we gained a more holistic understanding of IJM's commitment to serving and rescuing the oppressed as a Christian, professional, and bridge-building organization.
With a more thorough understanding of IJM's values and goals, I entered my first week as a Donor Relations (DR) intern excited, focused, and eager to learn as much as possible in my 10 weeks here at Headquarters in Washington, D.C. At our department welcome lunch, I learned that the team includes avid gardeners, travelers, and fellow runners. Within DR, some roles focus on grants and foundations, others plan benefit events, and another team builds relationships with individual constituents. In my first days at Headquarters, I have witnessed both the excellence of professionalism (in wearing a suit to work each day!) and the importance of relationships in accomplishing any goal (and thus the necessity of meetings). Throughout the summer, I hope to cultivate relationships with both the staff as well as with the other 23 interns. I plan to invite a staff person from a different department to lunch each week in order to learn more about IJM and the amazing people who dedicate their lives to the cause of justice. Within the DR department, I hope to develop both my skills and my understanding of being a "bridge-builder," connecting people and their resources to the greater mission. Alongside professionals who tirelessly work for justice, I am excited to see how my role at IJM takes shape throughout the coming weeks!
It’s just as I knew it would be. The summer is FLYING by and I’m learning more every day about global injustices, oppression, and how deeply hope is rooted in the DNA of IJM. My window into the organization as an intern for the Donor Relations team has provided me with new insights, sharpened skills, and a cultivated heart for public service.
So what does an IJM intern do? Well, each of the 24 interns has a distinct role and different work, but here is what a "typical" day could look like for me:
8:15 I arrive at work after practicing much patience in the DC-area traffic.
8:30 We participate in "Stillness," a designated time for all IJM employees to read, pray, or be still in order to start the day off on the right foot (and take a deep breath after all that traffic!).
9:00 I spend the morning drafting emails to send to our Field Office and Donor Relations staff to prepare the year-end mailing that will be sent to many of our donors. Around the Christmas season, we like to send personal mailings to IJM supporters who are particularly dedicated to our work. This year, the staff in our 15 field offices are contributing notes to this mailing, and I am coordinating shipments and movement of materials from the United States to various countries around the world, and back.
11:00 The staff gather together to talk about the work going on in the field offices and in HQ: rescues of victims from a brothel or a brick kiln, or the conviction of a perpetrator, for example. We pray together for the legal and personal care of our victims, for wisdom for our lawyers, investigators, and social workers, and for diligence in our supportive roles in HQ. This time of prayer is necessary because we know that the work we are doing requires more than our own strength and understanding.
11:30 I research Indian music to use during our Benefit dinners to transition guests from the reception area to the main room for the event portion of the evening. I have learned MUCH more than I knew before about Bollywood, Indian dance styles, and common Indian phrases translated to English.
12:30 We have a "Brown Bag Lunch" session about once a week with one of the senior level Vice Presidents of IJM. During these meetings, the VP will share with us various tidbits of wisdom, such as what they wish they had known during their 20s, how to determine where you should work after college, and even dating advice.
1:30 I put together a trip booklet for a group of donors that are visiting some of our Africa offices. This includes compiling travel information, health risks, and writing country overviews so the travelers have an idea of what to expect when they arrive.
3:30 I have a meeting over coffee with Laura, who assigned me a project to research registration processes for our Benefit dinners. I present to her the information I have found on how other organizations advertise, define their ticket and sponsorship levels, and register their participants. We discuss a variety of ways to improve our process as we enjoy delicious lattes and light-hearted conversations – usually about the joys and struggles of event planning.
4:30 I work on SharePoint, an online business collaborative platform, to reorganize one of our Donor Relations folders. By streamlining the metadata, our team will be able to more easily access past Benefit invitations, mailing templates, and Breaking News emails. I enjoy perusing the documents and reading email updates sent to our constituents that include amazing stories of rescue and restoration.
5:30 I change my heels for flip flops, hop on the elevator, and begin the journey back home – tired but happy from a fulfilling day of work.
I am excited to continue to work on these projects and others, as well as continue to learn from VPs and other staff members. This is turning out to be a very memorable summer!!
When I started my internship at IJM, I expected to learn a lot about the injustices of slavery and trafficking, to adapt to office life and gain professional skills, and to develop friendships with professionals and interns. While all those things are definitely true, I could not have foreseen the depth to which those facts would transform me and the way I view public service.
My experience at IJM showed me that we all have a role to play in seeking justice and loving our neighbor. When we commit to cultivating our own unique strengths, talents, and passions, we not only find meaning in our own work but we are able to serve others more effectively. At IJM, I got to be a part of a group of people dedicated to just that – growth and service. They understand that the term "neighbor" does not just apply to the person living next door, but to their coworkers in India, the widow in Kenya, and the orphan in Guatemala.
This is a theme I hope to bring back to the IJM chapter here at UVA as we kick off our fall events in the coming weeks. Even as college students, we have something to offer, and what we bring to the table actually does make a difference. As we seek to educate the UVA community on the issues of slavery and human trafficking, it is my hope that we can better understand how we all have the capacity to be public servants – not just professionally, but also in how we spend our time and our money. I am so grateful that others have invested in me and helped me to grow as a public servant. I know that the skills and lessons I learned this summer will continue to shape the ways I think about career opportunities and the ways I will invest my resources in the lives of others.