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Summer Internships: Zoe V. Balk '25

June 14, 2023
Zoe Balk seated outside amongst flowers with a building in the background

Name: Zoe V. Balk
Class Year: 2025
Major: International Studies
Minor: Chinese
Hometown: Wayne, PA

Internship Organization: Nationalities Service Center
Job Title: Resettlement Intern
Location: Philadelphia, PA

What's happening at your internship? We would love to hear what kind of work you are doing!

As a resettlement intern, I work with the Nationalities Service Center’s resettlement team to serve and resettle refugees when they first arrive in the United States. This involves a lot of different tasks as there are many necessary steps to ensure a smooth resettlement process for the NSC’s clients. One of the most common tasks I do is filling out forms for clients to apply for various services and forms of identification. I also make phone calls to various outside service providers, such as PECO and Philadelphia Gas Works, to ensure that the NSC’s clients have access to these services. My favorite task is interacting directly with clients both in person and over the phone, often with an interpreter. I also get to accompany clients on visits to various government offices for reasons such as applying for Social Security cards and receiving welfare benefits. After every such interaction with clients or on behalf of clients, I case note, which means I record what occurred so that the NSC has a record of what has been accomplished on behalf of the client and if there are any follow-ups needed.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because I worked at the Nationalities Service Center last summer and I found the work incredibly fulfilling. I love that the internship enables me to interact with clients from all over the world and allows me to help make the transition to living in the United States easier for clients. Being able to make a small but tangible difference in the world as an undergraduate intern is truly a privilege.

Was there anything special about how you found this internship?

I initially applied for this internship last summer. In the fall of 2021, I was taking Intro to International Politics with Professor Nisrin Elamin. A couple of students were giving a presentation on the end of the war in Afghanistan and the resulting Afghan refugee crisis. They dedicated a slide to organizations who were helping during this crisis and the NSC was one of these organizations. I took note of this, and several months later, I applied for an internship at the NSC and worked there during the summer of 2022.

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?

There is one particular skill that comes to mind when I think about my work at the Nationalities Service Center. I wish to work in the international sector when I graduate from college, so the most important skill I am learning is being able to effectively interact with people from all over the world. Learning about cultural practices in a classroom may help you understand a general picture of people, but it will not teach you about individuals. I strive to be respectful of people from backgrounds different than my own, and I am learning that the best way to do this is to follow the other person’s lead and to accept that you will make mistakes. The key is to always learn from these missteps and to recognize that as long as you are trying your hardest to be respectful, that is the most important thing.

Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.

International Studies Chinese