Interview with A4D Intern – Maisy Vincent
Over the summer of 2023, A4D had an opening for an intern with our organisation. It was fortuitous for us that Maisy was in Thailand over the summer, and applied for this position. She brought her own brand of charm and can-do attitude to our organisation. We interviewed her to learn more about her experience interning with us.
Could you give us a brief introduction who you are, what you're studying and why an internship with A4D was interesting to you?
My name is Maisy Vincent and I’m coming to the end of my 3-month summer internship with A4D. I have spent the summer based in Bangkok, Thailand as well as travelling to Laos and Cambodia for projects.
I am about to enter the final year of BSc International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response at the University of Manchester, in the UK. A key focus of my studies is healthcare access, which is what inspired me to pursue an internship with A4D this summer. I have gained practical experience in the third-sector through volunteering, however I was keen to gain some more project management-focussed experience. I was particularly interested in A4D as it is a relatively small organisation with a narrow focus but it is having a huge impact in SE Asia and it continues to grow and grow.
Did you have expectations/ideas of A4D and the work we do before coming into this internship?
I was lucky enough to meet Charles Toomey a few years ago while I was interning with one of A4D’s partners. From Charles, I gained a general understanding of what A4D were doing and could see his passion for the work. I also had some colleagues who had been to a Diabetes Family Camp. This gave me some idea of the outcomes of A4D, but I was very interested to see how the team worked day-to-day to fulfil its mission.
Could you tell us 3 things that were challenging/difficult throughout this internship?
The key challenges for me derived from the nature of working with a variety of partners on each project. There was often a language barrier which could make it difficult to follow every conversation and decision. However, this has motivated me to continue my German and Thai studies as I’m now more aware of the benefit of language proficiency. It was also sometimes difficult coordinating with very busy people. The project I would be working on would be top of my priority list. However, partner healthcare professionals have many other responsibilities and projects happening. So I had to be flexible with my expectations and deadlines. I think a third challenge would be creating a routine while working remotely. Working from home brings many advantages, especially for an introvert like myself, but it’s important to create a routine and set space for working to ensure you can always concentrate on the task at hand.
Could you tell us 3 things that brought you joy/touched you/felt rewarding in this time?
There have been many rewarding moments during my internship. These have especially come when I’ve got to travel to work on projects such as T1D Family Camp and training for healthcare professionals. The little bit of joy each day came from finishing my to-do-list and seeing another small element of a project come together. A lot of joy came from T1D Family Camp in Laos. After the hard work of preparing the camp, it was wonderful to see the participants having fun, making memories, and learning things that will really help them with their T1D management on a day to day basis. I also felt a lot of joy when I read through the evaluation sheets. There were so many comments of appreciation from individual participants. I feel like you don’t see that impact from the graphs and ‘key outcomes’ after a project. Overall, it has been a very rewarding experience as I have felt like I have had some true responsibility, can see the outcomes of my work and learn from my own successes and failures. It is far from a passive learning experience.
What is ONE thing you will take away from this that will help you in/add value to your studies/life as you head back home?
I’ve definitely learnt a lot about the importance of clear communication. In my studies we talk a lot about organisations’ communication and what intercultural communication looks like. I feel like I’m now better equipped to be an effective communicator and work efficiently in a multicultural, multilingual environment.
Did your expectations and ideas of A4D change after this internship? Would you come back to intern with A4D again?
After my internship I now understand the range of projects which A4D enacts. I didn’t know much about what healthcare capacity building looked like before. I’ve now been lucky to work on 2 projects of this nature. I’ve also had the chance to (virtually) meet the team at A4D and understand each of their roles and how they contribute to A4D’s mission each day. I would definitely take the opportunity to come back to intern with A4D again. It has been a fantastic learning experience and I am grateful for the mentorship and opportunities provided to me this summer.