Lei Liu (MPA’14)
My summer internship with Ford Institute for Human Security helped me to know more about Pittsburgh’s non-profit organizations which are human security practitioners. It was really impressive for a non-profit and public management major to visit the organizations’ work places and talk to the staff who are in charge of the programs. I got firsthand experience from my trips, and it was different from what the textbooks taught me. During the summer internship, I went to Global Solutions Pittsburgh, American Red Cross of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. On my visits, I learned how they operated different programs, how they dealt with the financial management, how they developed strategic planning, and how I should prepare for my future career.
It was really nice to see their offices and working environment as well. In addition, because there are many GSPIA alumni working in the local non-profit organizations, it was also wonderful to chat about their GSPIA experiences. I valued the insights into each organization and the advice I received for planning for my career.
Besides my fieldtrips, I also explored the non-profit world through daily projects and research. I developed a new page for the Ford Institute’s website listing recommended professional organizations and young leadership programs. Another project was identifying potential practitioners that may cooperate with the Ford Institute on human security issues, research or programs.
Even though I was working in Pittsburgh, I was still able to work with one international organization. Bright Kids Uganda is a children’s home in Entebbe, Uganda with a board of directors in the United States. The NGO was considering improving their accounting process. I researched and presented a variety of options to their Board members. They decided to convert their record keeping to Quickbooks, a financial management software for small non-profit organizations. I helped them to get the donation version from TechSoup and identified a source for low-cost training for their Treasurer. I also assisted BKU Board member Kristin Frye MID’13/MPH’13 with editing the Bright Kids Uganda website in WordPress, after the NGO combined their two websites this summer into a new upgraded version. The internship helped me to get closer to the non-profit world, sharped the skills that I learned from my first year of GSPIA, and prepared me for my future career. I really appreciate the opportunity to work with the Ford Institute.