By Crystal Mai, Community Education Facilitator

As the Community Education Facilitator at Fresh Roots for the last three months, I have received numerous opportunities to challenge myself, learn, and improve my professional skills in food systems, marketing, and youth and community education. At the same time, I have also been given many opportunities to practice my soft skills in public speaking, project management, communication, and digital designs. Regardless of the professional or soft skills I have gained and improved, they are both transferrable to my future career paths. Meanwhile, they serve as the prototyping experience of my internship. They enable me to prepare for my future job by allowing me to practice and apply my school knowledge in real-world contexts. I feel fulfilled and grateful for not only receiving a taste of the real world and meeting new people and starting to build my networking, but also for figuring out what I want to do after graduation and having more confidence.

It offered me a taste of what life was like in the real world

While working on projects with classmates was beneficial, it lacked practical application compared to what I encountered in a real-world workplace. I noticed significant differences between working in a classroom or school atmosphere and working in the real world. Part of my internship role helped support the Fresh Roots: Before the Sunset Annual Fundraising Event. Researching and reaching out to possible auction sponsors has led me to collaborate with various stakeholders, including food companies, beverage manufacturers, and cafes. Writing social media promotion posts for sponsored companies has allowed me to hone my marketing, communication, and digital design skills. Overall, the experience has enabled me to approach projects in ways I would not have considered otherwise. I will also take these valuable skills to my future employment, as one of my potential career paths is to become a Marketing Specialist. Furthermore, I realized that my intern work also impacted Fresh Roots, which gave me a great sense of pride.

It built my confidence and helped me explore what I wanted to do after graduation

Doing this internship exposed me to many different aspects of my field of study regarding Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health. It helped me realize the areas I excelled at and needed to develop more. For example, I am proficient in providing nutrition knowledge and spreading the word about healthy eating to community members and youth. While, I will work hard to enrich my understanding and application in sustainable farming and ecology, which is more related to the food systems part. By facilitating the field trips and day camps at David Thompson and VanTech Schoolyard farms, I was also able to try out different farming tools and learn new skills (e.g., weeding) along the way. I will leverage these experiences to motivate me to become an advocate for Food Systems Education for the youth. This also serves as another career path for me, as I would like to become a youth educator.

Interning at Fresh Roots helped me discover two career paths that I am passionate about, and they both provided me the chance to learn and grow within the perspective fields.

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