PKG Social Impact Internships: Ji Min Lee (’21|4-Arch)

Word clouds across newspapers for 2019 on Asian Americans

While looking for something quick to do over IAP I found out about PKG Social Impact Internships. I wanted to do work specifically related to the community around me, and I found the opportunity to do qualitative research on social issues that directly impact Asian American Pacific Islander communities. I am a Media Equity Research Intern at Asian American Pacific Islander Philanthropy (AAPIP), and the main goal of my project was organizing data for a report on ties between AAPI’s simplified representations and lack of funding for services. Clarifying model minority misunderstandings is central to equitable resources for economic mobility of the community.

I collected data on AAPI key terms across news articles and conducted quality control of previous research. I also created charts based on frequency of relevant words used, which was made even easier to read though visualizations like word cloud and presentations for comparisons across races, time, and publishers. Additionally, I did some initial analysis for the report to inform philanthropies on media’s knowledge gaps on the concerns of AAPI communities.

A challenge I faced at first was pushing myself to get into a consistent schedule, to coordinate properly with my supervisor. There was also a learning curve on making sure compound words were connected, and I was trying different methods to check for any variations in visual outputs to make sure it was replicable and the technology to generate the results were accessible. I got into a better routine and became faster after getting a hang of the tasks.

I learned how local demographics of the publisher may influence the focus or variation of issues around minority populations. It was interesting how the annual number of articles and the most popular topics usually stayed consistent unless elections or other huge racially charged events happened. happened. Many AAPI articles central focus was education as expected, though a close tie for second place between politics and entertainment was surprising. Also, other social issues for AAPI communities lack depth in discussion.

Though my interactions with my supervisor, who is a MIT alum, I learned how she gradually transitioned to socially impactful work after working on different things in life. It shifted my thinking a bit and alleviated some concerns on following a linear path, rushing through life, or thinking of choices as only binaries. Finally, I hope for the continuation of connections between communities and philanthropies and for the expansion of professional fields working to positively impact society.

Want to learn more about the PKG Social Impact Internships Program? Visit our webpage to learn about ELO opportunities for Spring 2021, and stay tuned for information for summer 2021 postings!

Tags: Racial Justice, Social Impact Internships, Social Impact Internships IAP 2021

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