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Spotlight on summer intern: Learning about TELL and Tokyo

Tiffany and friend at Shibuya crossing

Hi there!
I’m Tiffany, the summer intern at TELL. I grew up in Southern California and am a rising senior at Wellesley College, majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Chinese. Given my areas of study, many have asked why I decided to intern at a mental health non-profit and clinic in Tokyo this summer versus somewhere more directly related to my major, like a tech startup in Silicon Valley. For one, I have always been interested in mental health and psychology. Having grown up in a traditionally East Asian household (both my parents are Taiwanese), I have encountered first-hand the stigma towards mental illness as well as the tendency to avoid seeking out professional help. I want to learn about the methods being used to combat mental illness as well as distinguish the cultural nuances of the East and West that foster such divergent mental health cultures. Although Japan is one of the most exciting and technologically advanced countries on this planet, it is also infamous for its high stress work environments and suicide rates. For that, I think interning at TELL and living in Tokyo gives me the ultimate learning experience. Second of all, a summer in Tokyo?! Who would pass on that? I was actually born in Tokyo but left before grade school, so I also see this summer as an opportunity to explore a dynamic city that could’ve been my home.
I have been at TELL for almost a month but to be honest, I feel like I just got here. The office is pretty small. As a result, I interact pretty often and freely with all the employees, and am given a wide variety of tasks from whoever needs help that day. There really is no “standard” day at TELL. So far, I’ve helped design outreach posters, maintain TELL’s various websites, become a pro at using SalesForce, and probably created hundreds of Excel sheets. TELL has an annual auction, which is the largest donation generator for the organization, so most of my time is spent helping Nicole with that. It’s extremely shocking how much work and time goes into the auction! Even though the event is not until late fall, there are already so many tasks regarding venue finalization, AV equipment, contacting all the donors, and that doesn’t even scratch the tip of the surface. Since TELL is such a small team, it’s absolutely crucial that everyone does their part; it particularly makes me feel like I am making valuable contributions to the mission of TELL. Of course, there are some dull days where I partake in typical intern chores, like shredding and staple-removing. But besides that, I’ve really enjoyed my time in the office and what’s in store for the weeks to come.