Priyanka Paudel is a sophomore at Montgomery Community College in Maryland and is majoring in business administration. At the DME internship, Priyanka is currently apart of Borne to Battle Podcast where she is working as a transcriptionist. Some of her interests include telecommunications, radio, media and starting a new podcast in the future. 

Priyanka’s father advocated for a government-based internship and it was not until college that she found the DME internship at the Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS). Through her role as a transcriptionist, Priyanka learned more about Veterans Affairs (VA) resources and gained more experience outside of her major by reaching out to different departments in the internship. One of the projects that was important to Priyanka was for the CARES Act which gave her a new perspective of the Veterans and their families who might not have a home during COVID-19 and need help and support from different VA resources.

Priyanka is excited to talk about Slack in the DME internship which is a platform the DME interns are able to communicate through and get updated by their department heads and pick-up any new projects. She enjoys meeting and interacting with new interns and growing a platform by reaching out to others and having a conversation. 

For her career after college, Priyanka is thinking about getting her real estate license and starting her own ice cream shop. She is also interested in a career in radio or the media but is always looking to connect with people in whatever asset of employment she is in. 

Use the audio player to listen to Priyanka’s full interview, or read the transcript below:


Shannon Moran: The Department of Veterans Affairs does not endorse or officially sanction any entities that may be discussed in this podcast, nor any media products or services they may provide. Hello and welcome to the Department of Veterans Affairs Digital Media Engagement Interns Podcast. This podcast will focus on the experience and work of various interns on the Digital Media Engagement’s team who are working with us as part of the Virtual Student Federal Service internship within the department of Veteran’s Affairs. This podcast is two interns having a conversation about their experiences in order to highlight the work, as well as encourage application to this program and friendship amongst the interns. So please join us as we highlight and get to know some of the many interns that are part of our program. Thank you for listening!  Hey everybody it’s Shannon and welcome back to the DME Interns Podcast.  Today I’m speaking with Priyanka.  She is a sophomore at Montgomery Community College in Maryland and majoring in Business Administration.  She is currently working in addition to being a full-time student, she’s a part of the Borne the Battle podcast with us, working as a transcriptionist.  She loves all things dealing with telecommunications and media, radio, and hopes to start her own podcast in the future.  She’s starting that in actually less than a month, so probably right around when this episode is released.  She loves to simultaneously learn, as well as get experience, and enjoy what she’s doing.  She has an incredible passion for this, and I’m so excited to talk to her today.  How are you today, Priyanka?

PP: Hi, I’m doing well thank you so much for having me, Shannon.

SM: So how did you find this internship? 

PP: My father worked for the government for about 25 years, a little backstory.  Ever since we were able to understand what he was saying, he was always like, make sure you get a government internship, it’s an amazing opportunity, you can work in the government.  When I was able to finally get some college experience, whether it was a year or a semester, he was like okay, now is your time.  I couldn’t do that through Pathways, which is an official program through the government to get in.  That might have required me to be a Master’s student.  I found this internship through the Virtual Student Federal Services and this is one of the projects that I applied for.  I took an interest in it because I want to start my own personal podcast so I was like ok, this would really give me some experience.  I found it online, long story short.

SM: That’s awesome.  So, a quick background on how the Virtual Student Federal Services works, the internships basically post about one hundred, or what felt like one hundred different projects that they’re looking for interns to work on.  So you pick your top three, you write a statement of interest, and then they contact you if they want you to work for them.  It’s a really cool program and it gives you a lot of autonomy over what departments you want to work for, what internship, what project, and it really shows you — I never in a million years would have thought I would be interning with the VA.  It never really occurred to me until I found this internship.  Now it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in college so far.  

PP: 100%, that’s the same for me.  

SM: What are you excited about for working with the VA? 

PP: So, when I first started I was like okay, I will just be transcribing the podcast.  But, I realized then having it be just typing up what they were saying, I sooner or later started learning more about veterans affairs, and resources for retired veterans.  It got me thinking about projects that I could possibly involve myself in.  I was starting to get excited like wow, I was told by my department head that you can actually reach out to other departments within the DME Interns program and participate in any possible project that you can get your hands on.  So you can get more experience, and I think experience was exactly what I wanted.  I just wanted to have more of a feel for a proper internship, being now a sophomore in college I don’t have much.  I haven’t been in college for that long, and this was something that I just came across, and being a business major I was like okay, I want something related to that.  But I could never really find something straight off the bat of being in college.  I feel like this is actually something that could help me, whether it’s in media or it’s just getting an idea for how a federal business or organization works.  I feel like overall, I just love everything about it.  It’s helping me in so many ways.

SM: Exactly, and internships are a funny thing, because we put in a decent amount of hours, and most of them are unpaid.  But in exchange, we learn all of these skills.  We show up and say, I have very little experience, I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’m willing to work really hard and learn as much as I possibly can about everything I can learn.  So, there’s people like yourself, but also all the other interns that we’ve interviewed that had no idea what this podcast was, but they stepped up and said this seems like a cool opportunity.  And that’s really what makes these internships so cool, and makes them work so well, is it’s hundreds of college students of all ages really just wanting to learn as much as they can.  Which is a really great place to be.  So what has been your favorite project you’ve worked on so far.

PP: So we only started about two weeks ago, and I’ve been able to work on only about 2-3 episodes.  It does take about 3-10 hours to transcribe, so I’ve only done about 3 episodes.  From that, I’ve actually learned how to better my grammar in many ways.  One project that I was supposed to work on was for the CARES Act, and seeing how when coronavirus happened, how that was supposed to be implemented and how that could be beneficial towards veterans or what are the issues with coronavirus towards veterans.  It was interesting, because I already have looked into the CARES Act multiple times.  I had to do a backlog episode, but it was definitely interesting to actually get a veteran’s perspective and how they might not have a home right now, they might be in dire need of help and support.  There’s different resources like living areas or organizations through which the government pays for veterans to live in these homes which is very helpful.  So, that’s just one of the projects that has stood out so far, but I’m sure there’s going to be many more projects.  I’m working on one right now as well.

SM: That’s awesome, and you’ve done a lot already which is so cool.  So, what has been your favorite thing so far about the internship?

PP: I think the interactions.  So we use Slack, which of course you know about.  It’s something that we’re supposed to be active on daily.  So, I never actually knew that there was a platform like Slack, which kind of reminds me of Twitter almost.  It’s actually the best way to get to know your peers, whether they’re in your department or in any other department.  There’s over 300 members on the Slack platform, interns and all.  I think learning more about them whether it’s about their journey in a career, because we have Making Connections Mondays where we share our LinkedIn and our resumes on Friday, which helps me get to know more people.  It helps me grow more of my own platform if I want to extend an arm and say hey, look at me, do you want to be my friend, let’s work together.  I think the interaction is awesome and it’s formal and respectful at all times, but at the same time you can just be yourself, say hi to anyone you want.  They really encourage all of us to reach out to one another and just talk and have a conversation.  I love that.

SM: Yeah, it’s kind of a cross between a Facebook group, an email chain, and a text group chat.  It’s all of those things at once, in a very interesting way.  But yes, I completely agree.  So for a bit of background, Priyanka sent me her bio, and there’s some very interesting things in here.  So, she talked about wanting to start her own podcast in the next couple of months.  She also wants to get her real estate license, and open an ice cream shop at some point.  How, why, explain to me where these goals and these projects came from, and where all of these things sort of — it’s interesting.  Talk to me about it.  

PP: Ever since I was younger, my parents, I mean of course my dad was working for the government, but simultaneously, he owned a couple of franchise companies.  My dad owned two Quizno’s, a liquor store, and just from a young age I always wanted to have my own business.  At 14, I started working at Rita’s Italian Ice in my hometown.  I was in eight grade, and I was kind of taking a leap.  I always knew I wanted to work and own a business, and I loved ice cream.  Working there until now basically, last summer, I now want to have an ice cream shop.  No matter what I do career wise, that’s something that I want to have.  The whole real estate thing, I feel like it’s a venture that I want to take on to possibly build up my credibility whether it’s with people who do deals with homes or businesses.  I just want to get some kind of idea of how this business works.  It’s supposed to hopefully help me save up some money so if I wanted to have a startup, whether it’s the ice cream shop or some other business after college, it could possibly help me.  So, it’s just all a plan, it’s not official as of now of course, but it’s something that I hope I can achieve and it’s successful.  

SM: That’s awesome, and having dreams is so important.  Who doesn’t want their own ice cream shop, I mean seriously? 

PP: I’m obsessed with ice cream! I could probably eat those big tubs from Sam’s Club or Costco within thirty minutes.  

SM: That’s so funny.  So, tell me more about this podcast that you dream of having.  What do you want to do with it?

PP: I think right before we spoke we were even talking about YouTube.  YouTube offers individuals to simply share their ideas and be open about their different creative options, whatever they’re thinking about.  That kind of started to make me think ok, people are starting to make video podcasts, I actually love speaking to people.  I’m nervous right now, but usually when I’m not getting recorded, I love to talk.  I just love interaction.  I love to learn about other people.  I was like yeah, I’d love to do YouTube, but I’m not that creative in terms of, okay let me make a skit of something funny for comedy.  The beauty trends, I’m not very good at it, I’m not good at gaming, so I was like what can I do?  Then I realized, wow, I can possibly start a podcast.  I was like perfect, so I thought of this a couple of months ago, and my friends were like you should totally do it, you’re really good with people and I have a lot to say.  I want to listen to other people’s opinions and ideas.  So, I was thinking of starting a video podcast, of course it would be voice as well, which would be uploaded on Apple or iTunes and Spotify.  You could see the video content on YouTube.  It would be about anything related to lifestyle, mental wellness, and anything my friends and I or whoever I’m interviewing want to talk about in depth.  Possibly even politics, just real life things.  Just as if I’m having a conversation with any other person that I meet in a day to day basis, that’s exactly what I want to do with my podcast.  

SM: Who is your dream interview?

PP: I’m really into mainstream artists and musicians, so I guess if I were to pick someone, as far as music goes, I would probably say Drake.  I mean I do listen to a lot of podcasts.  I love to learn about different influencers whether it’s on social media platforms or their philanthropies, even just CEOs of different companies and directors.  I think that would be the most interesting.  I’m actually interested in Complex, Muse, and Vox, which they have a big following on YouTube.  I love YouTube so much, I go on there all the time.  I would want to speak to their directors and their CEOs, CFOs, whoever I could get in touch with.  I feel like that would actually be one of my dream interviews.  I can’t name any exact people, but just maybe people like that.  

SM: That’s awesome, so what are your goals after this internship?  I know we talked about the ice cream shop, but what do you want to do really?

PP: I definitely have a lot of dreams and clearly not a set path as of now.  Especially with what I’m going to do after college.  I feel like a lot of young adults are people that are transcending into the adult stage.  I feel like sometimes we don’t know exactly what we want to do or the field of work that we want to get into right out of college.  I believe I feel pressure sometimes to use my degree to my advantage, but personally, I would actually love to get into media.  Whether it’s doing radio news, being on TV, or doing something for a publishing company, I think that would be a real dream for me.  That’s as of right now, and all those things that I even said, they’re kind of on the side, like a hustle or something that I would love to pursue.  Long term, I feel like I will always want to connect and I feel like sometimes sitting at a desk or working a 9-5 for me, long term of course, if I could, I think everyone would just like to pursue their hobbies.  But I hope I can turn a hobby into an actual career.  So that’s what I want to do.  Definitely media, definitely media for sure.

SM: When you finish this internship in about nine months, what do you hope to have learned?

PP: I hope to have learned more about veterans.  I think people that are in the military, the navy, or anyone that’s serving our country right now, I haven’t ever been exposed to people in the military, no one in my family served in this manner, and I just want exactly what I hear from the podcast, that’s what I want to learn.  More about the resources, more about maybe how I can help and be involved.  But also, I want to build connections, and hopefully if I want to start getting closer and closer to my department heads, I can start learning better work ethics, or just better techniques of how to get into the position of whether working for the government or just doing bigger projects long term.  Since I am transferring, I feel like I really have to take this to my advantage.  I am not already in a four-year university I have to do the best that I can and if that means sometimes not taking as many classes because I worked so hard my first year, as a freshman.  I’ve been able to actually give more time and attention to this internship and I just want to continue doing that.  The connection, the actual information that I receive from these podcasts, I really want to learn, I don’t want to just type up what they’re saying.  I want to actually understand, connect, and hopefully even evolve this into an internship next year, or the year after and do this maybe until the end of my college career.  So, we’ll see.

SM: Fantastic. You really hustle, I respect it.  What is your advice for somebody that’s looking into this internship or wants to apply?

PP: I feel like in order to get this internship you have to be aware and active.  I found this through one of my counselors that I was speaking to previously because we were talking about transfer advising.  She recommended that if I’m not in this program in this school, or this or that, it’s best that you have an internship or something.  But she was not expecting me to get an internship with a federal podcast.  She was just mentioning it but was not recommending it.  But I was like honestly, this would probably be the best.  I would like to actually do things more hands-on, and I don’t know, I’m just used to always working.  So just school sometimes wasn’t enough, I wanted more stimulation.  So I applied, but it took some courage because I have been turned down in the past, whether it was in high school or my first semester in college for certain internship positions simply because I didn’t have enough experience.  If anyone was to apply, I would just say take a leap of faith.  When we went into an information meeting for the VSFS project program to apply to these, she was like there’s thousands of applicants, only a few hundred or a thousand get picked, and I was like okay, that definitely kind of scared me.  I really wanted to do this, I really wanted something to add on to my resume.  I really wanted to gain experience.  Honestly, I just hoped for the best, I trusted myself, I trusted what I could do, my capabilities, and I applied.  So I think having faith in yourself, putting yourself out there, I was very sure what I wanted from this internship.  This and two other ones that I applied to, in the essay that I had to do I was like I’m going to put faith into this.  It worked.  This was actually the first offer I got and I just ran with it.  I wasn’t going to wait any longer, the second I got it I accepted the position.  Our department heads have continuously told us, be active, reach out, and if we can’t be in person and do interactive seminars, projects, discussions, just if you can type something up on Slack, say hi, so be active with your peers and your seniors, and have faith in what you are going to do.  Definitely work hard, don’t slack around.

SM: Well and that’s the goal of this podcast is for every intern to have a little more experience with podcasting but also to learn from one another and to learn the stories of the people that we’re working with.  If somebody listens to this episode and they message you and say hey, I really want to open my own ice cream shop, that’s a connection that would only happen because this podcast was created.  That was the whole reason we did this.  So to wrap things up, our favorite part of the episode is what is a fun fact about yourself?  Tell me something fun.  

PP: I actually played the violin for 10 years, I guess that’s something fun about myself.  I’ve always felt a connection to music, so I have actually created instrumentals whether it was making beats, singing a little bit, I’ve definitely done that on my own.  Like I said, anything in media or pop culture, that’s exactly the reason why I want to be a part of this industry and business because I’ve always had a desire to connect whether it was through music or whether it was through people.  So my start and reason for why I even want a podcast, why I even want to do what I want to do is because of the love of music.  So I was playing my violin up until the end of my high school career, and yeah, that’s a fun fact about me.

SM: Well thank you so much for joining us Priyanka, and thank you everyone for listening, thank you for tuning into the DME Interns Podcast, we hope you learned something about your fellow interns, more about our program, and that you come back and listen to us soon.  Have a great rest of your day!