Meet a VC Summer Intern: Saya Maeda


#VCInternFriday is back again and this time, the spotlight goes to Saya Maeda, who is part of Occidental College's InternLA! Learn more about Saya and what she's up to at Visual Communications (VC).

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Saya Maeda, and I’m a Diplomacy and World Affairs major at Occidental College (Oxy), or otherwise known as the “school that Obama attended for two years!” Currently, I’m looking forward to studying abroad in Nepal this upcoming semester. While I was uncertain about many things entering college, I was always set on traveling abroad during my time at Oxy. In Nepal, I will be studying Tibetan and Himalayan politics and religion as well as the issues faced by communities in exile. Although I still don’t know what I want to do post-grad, working at VC has further fueled my interest in the nonprofit sector.

What do you do at VC?

As the Development Associate Intern, I predominantly assist Rachelle, the Strategic Partnerships Director, with all fundraising efforts. This includes finding and applying to government, foundation, and corporate grants. I’m also looking into new sponsorship opportunities for VC programs and events, like the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and PAST//FORWARD Gala, and revamping our existing sponsorship decks for this upcoming Festival and Gala season, in order to attract more sponsors.

What is something that you’re working on that is interesting?

One of my first tasks involved reconstructing the Festival and Gala sponsorship decks. This project was particularly intriguing and challenging because I had no prior knowledge about sponsorship decks. Despite this, I enjoyed looking through other decks and highlighting what worked and didn’t, incorporating the positive aspects into VC’s. In reconstructing these decks, I had the opportunity to get a little creative. I had to lay out the deck in a way that told a story and provided sponsors with a reason to support our events.

What do you like about VC?

I absolutely love VC’s office environment. I’ve never been in a space that feels welcoming and relaxing, yet stimulating. VC is truly unique in that it lacks the hierarchical and strict environment that many organizations and companies foster, and, instead, has cultivated a laid-back and collaborative work space. Overall, VC has made the office feel like home, and I’m sure many community members, including artists, business owners, and residents, can attest to that. Because the organization acts as a media arts center, it brings in many local creatives from around the city. As someone who lacks artistic knowledge and abilities, it is extremely inspiring and refreshing to work alongside people who use art as a means to express themselves, tell stories, and engage in activism.

What would your autobiography be called?

My autobiography would be called, Saya Maeda: A Whole “Other.” I saw this quote at the Japanese American National Museum’s exhibit. As someone who identifies as hapa, the phrase really resonated with me!  


My Experience as an Oxy Intern

By Saya Maeda

InternLA has provided me with the unique opportunity to live in a vibrant and dynamic city while interning for an organization that works toward empowering communities and fighting stereotypes. Unlike my fellow interns from the Getty Multicultural Undergraduate Internship and LA County Arts Commission Arts Internship, InternLA requires their participants to attend weekly Impact Sessions run by Oxy’s Career Center. These sessions serve as professional development trainings aimed at maximizing our internship experience and preparing us for future career paths. So far, we’ve had presentations and workshops on improving our LinkedIn profiles and constructing our 30-second elevator pitches. During our elevator pitch workshop, we were required to stand up in front of our fellow InternLA participants and recite our 30-second speech while individuals from the career center assessed our performance. It was nerve racking and intimidating to say the least. Most recently, we had an Oxy alumni, Janet McIntyre, speak about her career in the nonprofit world. She answered questions regarding her time at Oxy, the rewards of working at a non-profit, and the struggles of switching jobs. This was by far my favorite Impact Session as I got to hear from someone who not only was in my position not too long ago at Oxy, but also currently works in an industry that I’m interested in exploring.

Although I value the opportunity to get a headstart on my career development, I prefer the hands-on work I get to do here at VC. Half way into my 10-week internship, I already feel like I’ve learned more tangible skills than I’ve ever been able to acquire in a classroom setting. Like many people, I absorb the most information when I get to put what I know into practice. For instance, I got to work on a grant report for the National Endowment for the Arts. Actually participating in the writing process allowed me to fully understand the grant reporting procedure.


I’ve also loved the various out-of-office outings and excursions. Thanks to VC, I’ve been better acquainted with downtown LA, and specifically Little Tokyo (LT). Along with my fellow interns, I had the opportunity to attend a Sundance screening of Boots Riley’s film, Sorry to Bother You, which is now one of my favorite films. Most recently, all the interns went to a City Hall meeting to discuss the demolition of Parker Center. Upon the confirmation of the demolition, we, alongside other LT community members, attended a press briefing with City Councilmember José Huizar. I’ve also have had the opportunity to accompany Rachelle to the Department of Cultural Affairs for grant related work and the Taglyan Complex to scout for Gala venues. As a relatively new resident of California, it has been extremely exciting and rewarding to be invested in and apart of the LT community.