Hello everyone! I’m Joshua Yamane and for the past three months, I have served as one of the social media and marketing interns. I first heard about the internship from my grandmother. She sent an email which surprised me because every time I saw her with a phone, she was asking someone for help. I opened the email and read through the details of the job. To my surprise, the internship was at GVJCI, a familiar location since I visited often for F.O.R basketball and Sansei baseball pictures. I also happened to live about five minutes away from the facilities so I passed by frequently and came for the GVJCI carnival to get the Okinawan donuts. So, hoping I would get a chance to work at such a familiar place I sent in my application and hoped for the best. To my joy and grandmother’s, I managed to get the position.
Now, what does the story about getting the internship mean? The story represents everything that GVJCI stands for and its mission. They have smartphone classes to teach the seniors how to use their phones; seniors like my grandmother. JCI’s mission is to spread the Nikkei experience and culture. Respecting and aiding elders certainly falls into that category as Japanese culture prides itself on taking care of its seniors. Being a gosei or fifth-generation Japanese-American, I only have a faint trace of my rich Japanese heritage. I cannot speak or understand Japanese. I am not particularly fond of adzuki beans, sashimi, or ume which are obviously extremely popular in Japanese cuisine. The disconnect I felt with my culture always saddened me as I wanted to proudly say I am Japanese. I was always a little envious of those who had parents or family members that spoke their native language and had strong cultural ties.
Despite my disjointed connection, the internship really helped me understand my Japanese culture and embrace it. My responsibilities included managing the social media of GVJCI, creating flyers for programs, and generating new creative ideas to increase engagement with followers. I worked entirely remotely for the first part of my internship so I could not see the fruits of my labor until the Matsuri fundraiser. Because I could not see the results of my work, I found the initial portion of the internship difficult and tedious. I could not come up with original captivating designs. With the copyright rules and proper diction that needed to be followed, the job seemed much more rigorous than I initially thought. However, thanks to the trust and feedback I constantly received from Stephanie and Cathy, they guided me and I would like to think I got the hang of it.
Everything finally started to piece together at Matsuri. Walking into the office for the first time, meeting all the staff members, and setting up the tents validated the work I was doing. On the day of Matsuri, I along with two other interns Celeste and Noah put up stories and took pictures and videos of the event. Actually obtaining the pictures that would later be used was also a ton of fun because I could fashion the photos how I wanted them. Seeing so many people come out and enjoy all the hard work that was put in was indescribably gratifying.
After Matsuri, there was around a month until the next major event; the Tanoshii Fun Camp. This was by far one of my favorite experiences as an intern. The kids were so much fun to be around and definitely made the early mornings worth it. The work felt so rewarding as I knew I was giving back to the same Japanese-American community that I was raised in.
As a business economics major, learning how to market and network is crucial to success. I had no experience with social media or marketing outside of social media use in my personal life. Thankfully, GVJCI accepted me with open arms and mentored me. Learning how to effectively relay a message clearly and concisely through social media platforms taught me so much about factors I hadn’t even considered. I don’t know what I envisioned the internship would look like, however it was so much more and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.