August 08, 2016

My surprising internship at the Tiger Woods Foundation

The French translation of the timeless quote attributed to Julius Caesar, “I came, I saw, I conquered,” was boldly displayed in sparkly gold and silver letters on my graduation cap: “J’ai venu, j’ai vu, j’ai vaincu.” For over a decade, I have approached every challenge and obstacle with this mindset, including my internship at the Tiger Woods Foundation. From submitting my resume and the interview process to present day, I have grown immensely as a professional and as an individual thanks to the unlimited opportunities I was afforded by this organization.

The leadership and support, the scope of services provided and programs offered, the exposure to various departments and the organization’s status as a nonprofit have all made this experience valuable and very rewarding.

I was made aware of this internship by SAGE Scholars, the scholarship program I was involved in at the University of California, Irvine. SAGE partners with local organizations and companies to provide internship and scholarship opportunities exclusively for SAGE scholars. Prior to learning about this particular internship, I had never heard of the Tiger Woods Foundation, so before I tailored my resume and cover letter I did some research. One of the first things I read about the organization was that it aimed to end the cycle of poverty through education. That is something I have always agreed and strongly identified with, so that statement alone gave me all the motivation and inspiration I needed to apply. Unfortunately, the first time I applied for the position I did not even get an interview. Thankfully, I was not discouraged, the rejection only fueled me to secure the position and my persistence and perseverance paid off. The following cycle I secured the position and the experience thus far has been reciprocal, I have benefited from working at the foundation and vice versa.

As the programs and administrative intern, the majority of my duties fall under the category of “administration” or “office management.” Despite this formality I have had many opportunities to complete tasks outside the scope of administration. On the programs side, I have had the opportunity to visit the learning center on multiple occasions and aid the faculty and staff there with classes and programs like the High School Summer Academy Program and Earl Woods Scholarship Program.

On the events side, I have been able to help prepare for Tiger Jam, and this past June I traveled to the East Coast and was able to work the Quicken Loans National in Bethesda, Maryland.

Recently, I have had the opportunity to complete tasks that would usually fall under the category of “marketing and communications.” For example, I now have the pleasure of creating the “Weekend Highlights” bulletin to send out to the California staff on a biweekly basis. Additionally, because of my experience and work ethic, I was unofficially designated the lead intern responsible for training new interns. Lastly, as a part of the professional development aspect of the internship, all of the interns were given the opportunity to dialogue with a few of the vice presidents and the CEO, picking their brains about careers, school, personal and professional growth and even mentorship. That experience alone was instrumental in getting me started on the path that, after being on the fence about for more than three years, has resulted in my finally deciding to pursue medical school. The aforementioned are just a few notable opportunities and experiences from my past year interning at the Tiger Woods Foundation, and I brag about the organization every chance I get.

Going into this internship I had expectations of what it would be like, and what I would gain from it, but the reality is that I drastically underestimated the value of this internship. To say this experience has vastly exceeded my expectations would be a gross understatement. I have expanded my network to the opposite coast with our offices and events there. I have gained indispensable knowledge and invaluable experiences like the mentorship and unforgettable memories that I will take with me for the rest of my life. I have acquired a set of skills that are transferrable and that I will be able to apply in almost any other job and as I pursue an M.D. I also got a better understanding of the dynamics of a nonprofit and a multifaceted company, and I also learned the importance of collaborative effort. My experiences were unexpected, but they reinforced my unstoppable nature and my unbreakable drive ultimately reminding me that the word “champion” isn’t just for athletes.

Champions of the unexpected for 20 years.