Elaine Liang’s journey of impact with Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones values the educational background and abilities of its volunteers highly. Elaine Liang, currently studying for a Bachelor’s degree in English (Translation) at Shanghai Jiao Tong University with a minor in Communications, is set to begin her Master’s program this year. As an intern at Stepping Stones, she dives into supporting the events and fundraising departments, enthusiastically engaging in various fundraising activities.

A Journey Rooted in Volunteering

Elaine initially joined Stepping Stones as a volunteer, teaching English both through the online “Home Classroom Program” and in-person through the “Shanghai Program.” Her experience as a volunteer sparked a deep interest in the nonprofit work environment, and she discovered that Stepping Stones’ mission perfectly aligned with her academic pursuits. This sense of alignment not only kept her engaged as a volunteer but also led to a rewarding internship journey.

A Fulfilling Internship Experience

Elaine’s internship experience at Stepping Stones has been incredibly fulfilling, standing in stark contrast to her previous experiences. Instead of just handling routine tasks, she’s challenged to use her creative thinking to solve problems and bring real value to the team. At Stepping Stones, Elaine feels a strong sense of belonging and knows she is a needed team member. As an intern, she’s not a mere observer but an essential part of the team.

Although most of her work is office-based, Elaine truly enjoys hands-on experiences, such as participating in negotiation meetings and actively engaging in volunteer activities. She is grateful for her team, where her opinions are genuinely heard and considered, regardless of her status as an intern.

Elaine worked closely with Stepping Stones staff member, Teddy. She witnessed how the digital literacy program not only taught children coding skills but also led them to participate in a competition, applying what they learned and showcasing their abilities. One student, named Chen, left a deep impression on Elaine. With Stepping Stones’ help, Chen gained confidence in coding and won first place in the competition. Before this, Chen never imagined she could learn and master coding, but now she dreams of becoming a programmer. Elaine truly saw the positive impact Stepping Stones’ educational programs had on students’ lives, which strengthened her determination to contribute to nonprofit organizations in the future.

During her time in the fundraising department, Elaine gained a deep understanding of the complex process behind successful fundraising. She learned how to navigate and comply with various government regulations in the nonprofit sector, realizing that embracing challenges is crucial for the smooth operation of an organization. 

Elaine highlighted that her internship taught her many practical and hands-on skills, invaluable experiences that can’t be learned in the classroom. These experiences gave her a comprehensive and profound understanding of nonprofit operations, greatly benefiting her future career.

The Proactive Intern: Maximizing the Stepping Stones Experience

When reflecting on her internship journey, Elaine specifically emphasized the importance of “taking initiative.” Stepping Stones provides interns with opportunities to grow, but whether they seize these opportunities ultimately depends on the interns themselves. The level of dedication and effort interns put in directly determines how much valuable experience and growth they gain.

As Elaine’s internship comes to an end, she takes away not only practical skills and experience but also a profound respect for an organization that puts its values into practice, bringing substantial changes to underprivileged children in the education sector in China. Her experience at Stepping Stones has further strengthened her determination to pursue nonprofit work, profoundly influencing her career aspirations and personal growth.