Meet a VC Summer '17 Intern: Dana Lim

Summertime is usually an exciting time for Visual Communications (VC), as we bring aboard students from different schools to be part of the VC Family. Learn more about our VC Development and Communications Intern Dana Lim, and what she's been working on with us these past few months.

Tell me about yourself.
DANA: I’m Dana, I go to Occidental College, and I’m going to be entering my 4th year as a Comparative Studies and Literature and Culture Major. I’m currently the Development and Communications Intern at Visual Communications. I’m from Honolulu, Hawaii.

What do you do here at VC?
My focus mainly is to help with the development aspect of the company. What that entails is mostly writing grant proposals for different government grants, corporations, or foundations. I also research other sources of funding and partners to work with. I also write reports - usually when you get a grant, you have to submit a recap of what happened with the project to finalize the funding, because usually grants don’t give you all of the money right away. Most of it is narrative writing and research, making sure that I understand each program fully and how it coordinates with VC’s mission.

Is there any aspect of what you’re doing right now that you particularly enjoy?
I think what’s cool is that right before I got this internship, I was working on my own personal grant for an independent research project. I came into the position thinking, “Oh I’ve had experience with this before.” But it's different when you’re writing for an organization. There’s more paperwork, materials to fill out, and each website is different, so you have to start from scratch all over again. It’s cool because I’m learning how to be an arts facilitator/administrator.  A lot of artists have many projects that they would like to work on but simply lack funding. It’s really fulfilling for me to be writing these proposals because I’m helping these artists create these projects that they want to do. It’s impactful in my eyes.

Would you like to go into the arts career as an arts administrator?
Yes, definitely. From this experience, there is no way that I won’t be involved in the arts in the future. I think that this internship has shown me that I have a lot more to learn and if I want to pursue this career, I would need to have a lot more training in writing. At the same time, I also consider myself an artist. I am a photographer, so at the end of all of this, I think that I will have all the tools to do everything myself. If there’s a project I would like to do, I know where to find grants and I can utilize my own artistic skills as well. We’ll see. Anything’s possible.

What has been your favorite memory at Visual Communications?
I’ll never forget the time when we had to put a jigsaw puzzle together. I think it was either our first or second week. We were just trying to get to know each other at the time, and we were thrust into this exercise of putting a puzzle together using different senses. One person was blindfolded (couldn't see), another person had headphones on (couldn't hear), another person couldn't speak, and the last person couldn't touch the pieces. It was a super cool team building experience in using communication skills. Another good memory was when we did the Kizuna Living Room Screening. That was really fun because it was a manifestation of what we were all working on in terms of creating a space for filmmakers. To watch all the different shorts and meet the artists was really fulfilling.

Occidental College's InternLA Program

by Dana Lim

This summer, I gained the Development and Communications internship position at Visual Communications Media through Occidental College’s InternLA program. 

At VC, I support efforts towards expanding and diversifying the organization’s support base by writing grant proposals and reports, and researching government, foundation, corporate, and individual funding opportunities. Through this internship, I am gaining a well-rounded overview of development, communications, and general non-profit arts management. 

InternLA gives students valuable work experience with a variety of organizations and companies throughout the Los Angeles area. I wanted to be a part of InternLA to experience living independently and working in another state other than my home, Hawai’i. 

As part of the InternLA program, students are required to attend weekly IMPACT sessions that focus on career and professional development training. Previous sessions have focused on how to network, utilize our strengths, and craft an elevator pitch. Our last IMPACT session was a little different, however, because students made presentations inspired by TED Talks. Our presentations focused on answering: 

  1. Why choose a Liberal Arts education?
  2. Why hire a Liberal Arts student?
  3. How does a Liberal Arts education prepares students for leadership roles in the workplace?
  4. Who are Gen Z?
  5. How can employers benefit from hiring Gen Z?

In many ways, my liberal arts experience has been beneficial during this summer. My major Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture is a fully interdisciplinary major where students engage at least one specific literature and language and one specialized external discipline of our own choosing. I elected to study Roman art and culture in relation to contemporary film, exploring concepts of viewership and specularity, which is just a fancy way of describing the relationship between performers and audience members. Working for a company like VC has helped with the development of my academic interests. Just like how Roman culture used art as a form of political persuasion, VC understands how media is a tool of empowerment for underrepresented communities. 

In turn, the skills I acquired from my major has helped me with the work I do at VC. Forming an argument and finding scholarly sources that support such a specific study requires extensive research and I am encouraged to think in an innovative, creative, and original way. When I’ve had to find other grant opportunities for VC, I applied my research skills. Rather than searching “art grants,” I also looked at the websites of our competitors. Not only have my studies helped me with researching grants, but it also helped me with writing grant proposals. For my thesis-driven papers, I pull information from different sources and combine them into a cohesive argument. Similarly, for VC, I look at how our competitors wrote grant proposals and incorporate certain elements in order to update and improve on our past submissions. 

I would also attribute my abilities to the fact that I am Gen Z. Gen Z are post-millennials and our main characteristics include being comfortable with technology and using social media especially as a means of interaction. These skills make us better future employees. Exposed to technology from a young age, I am used to navigating through digital platforms, as most grant applications are now online. I also have this drive to find fulfillment in my work. Knowing that these grants support the work of Asian American and Pacific Islander media creators brings excitement and meaning to what I have done this summer.