Grace Yang is a motion graphics intern at the VA DME Internship where she creates videos about recent news, #VeteranOfTheDay posts and other graphic design projects. Grace graduated from the University of Maryland in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, criminal justice and criminology and is currently pursuing a certificate in video production from Montgomery College. Grace also works part-time at the Chinese Culture and Community Service Center where she maintains the website and helps create videos and graphics.

Grace discovered video making through a creative writing class in high school. She liked the idea of going out and spending time creating videos that brought stories to the screen. While searching for the right internship for her, Grace saw the motion graphics intern position at the VA and applied for that position as her first pick and two others through the Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS). 

For her work as a motion graphics intern, Grace’s experience in marketing and criminal justice helps her to apply different concepts and soft skills that she gained from her college classes to the motion graphics projects that she helps design and create for the VA. One of the projects that stands out to Grace the most is the video timeline she did of Chuck Yeager that she is proud to have worked on. 

Another thing that Grace mentions is how time management helps her to balance her busy day spent between classes, the internship and her job. 

Use the audio player to listen to Grace’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! Hello and welcome back to the DME Interns podcast, this is Shannon, and today I’m joined by Grace.  She’s a motion graphics intern here at DME where she’s in charge of creating videos based on recent news releases and helps create Veteran of the Day posts, and other graphic design based projects for the content calendar. If you listen to Claire’s episode, go check that out, and you’ll hear her talk all about that. Recently, she’s been working by creating videos and graphics as our volunteer program starts to launch the student leadership council.  She graduated from Maryland in 2018 with a Bachelor’s in Marketing and Criminal Justice and Criminology. Currently, she is a student at Montgomery College pursuing a certificate in Video Production and plans on completing the degree this May. She also works part-time at the Chinese Culture and Community Service Center helping them maintain their website and creating videos and graphics for them. She’s done a ton of work here at DME, so we’re so excited to talk to her today. How are you doing Grace?

Grace Yang: I’m good.

SM: So, how did you decide — the jump between Criminology and Motion Graphics seems kind of large. How did you decide on that?

GY: So, I think Criminal Justice and Criminology was kind of a last minute decision while I was studying at the University of Maryland. It was actually a major I declared at the end of my Junior year. That was kind of sudden. Going into college, I’ve always enjoyed anything involving art, design, video, and film particularly. I think because pursuing a path in the arts can sometimes be a little challenging, I think in terms of job stability, so I applied for the business school and I ended up choosing Marketing because I think I can see design and marketing going hand in hand. Criminal Justice was just something I added on for the fun of it. After graduating, I really wanted to understand the whole video production process more. So I really decided to pursue that passion and go for a certificate at Montgomery College. 

SM: That’s awesome! So, how does your experience in Marketing help your work here at the VA?

GY: From all of the things that I’ve pursued, it does teach me a lot of the different concepts that I can apply and I think it’s more of those soft skills that I get from all of these different classes, from school, and that I get from all of my other experiences that I can bring to the VA. One big thing would probably be time management. Having double majored before, it was a lot of coursework and unrelated coursework. You have to pay attention to both sides of things. I think now, with school, this internship, and my job, it’s a lot of different projects that I need to be able to balance and stay on track of everything that I’m doing. 

SM: So, what made you discover a passion for video and the work that you are now going to get your certificate in, specifically video production?

GY: So, I was actually first introduced to creating a video through a creative writing class in high school, because one of our projects for creative writing for some reason was to create a video. I think after creating that video, I found out that I really enjoy the process of going out and being able to bring a story to life. And then, since it’s taking what I’m envisioning in my mind, and putting it onto the screen, I really like that control, and to also be able to create a world that you can bring audiences into and take them on a journey. Ever since creating that first video, I spent my free time creating other videos just for the fun of it. I think it’s really that aspect that I really enjoy. Being hands on, being out there, coming up with new ideas all the time and always learning new things and new techniques while I’m at it.

SM: How did you find this internship?

GY: So I actually came across this internship from an email I received from my school that was talking about VSFS. I decided to take a look at it and I was like, oh, they actually have design related internships from the government, which I feel like is something I don’t normally hear about. I mostly hear a lot about business and computer related internships. So I looked through all of those different internships that they had available, and I saw the Motion Graphics Intern at the VA, and that one really drew me in because I think that was the most closely related to video production compared to all of the other ones that I saw. So I applied for three total, because VSFS lets you select up to 3 different internships. This one was actually my first one, and so when I got accepted I was actually really happy. I immediately replied back and accepted this position and went through the whole boot camp process.

SM: Yeah, that’s so great. So, what has been your favorite project that you’ve worked on so far?

GY: I feel like what I love most is as I work on projects, I bring in new ideas from previous projects, and I like to try new things. Especially with motion graphics, I feel like I play around with new concepts all the time, but I think right now one that stands out to me is probably the Chuck Yeager project or video that I made. That one I particularly liked because I did this timeline thing where I had like a plane fly and land, and then you have the picture or slide that comes out with his information, and it’s kind of this journey of the plane going up and down. I think that was probably one of the cooler motion graphics that I’ve created. 

SM: I think a lot of people don’t fully understand or appreciate everything that goes into creating motion graphics. Can you talk about what a typical week looks like for you? 

GY: I create both motion graphics but I also help out the graphic design department. But, in terms of motion graphics, I’m on the news release side. So, what I do is I read through news releases and pick out one to two articles that I think would be important for either veterans or for the public to know about what Veterans Affairs is offering. As I pick out an article, what I do is a storyboard of it, where I pick out or try to summarize the article in more interesting terms, and then I think about what graphics I can drop in, and what motion graphics I can use to do it. Because my Illustration skills still need work, I typically go to PixelBay for free stock footage graphics, and then I look through ones that I think would work, and then I throw those into Photoshop where I try to use VA colors or I manipulate them how I want. From there on, I throw it into AfterEffects and it’s just composition after composition, layering everything together, following the storyboards, sometimes changing it as I go along. I put everything together into a one minute video, and then I use GarageBand for the music that I put in there. After that, I put everything together, I submit it onto our Slack channel, because that actually allows us to upload more than 10 megabytes which is really nice. I link that to Trello and then our DH’s will take a look at it. 

SM: That’s so cool. That’s just a process that I don’t have any experience in, so I think it’s really interesting. I hope our listeners find it interesting as well. So what has been your favorite thing about the internship so far, not just in video but everything overall?

GY: I think I’ve really liked the whole community and I think the whole structure is very organized and it’s very easy to know what’s expected of you. Coming from organizations and having worked there, there is a structure here that people stick to. It’s very encouraging, I’ve never heard anything negative from anyone on Slack or anything. I feel like everyone is always very encouraging, very positive, and I think going through projects, the feedback is always critical, but it’s constructive criticism that builds you up and it’s not just like oh, this is terrible. They actually give me something that I can work with and I really appreciate that. 

SM: So going off that idea of critiques, what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned as an intern here?

GY: I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is really to pay more attention to detail and to really consider the audience, especially since we’re working with the Veteran community. It’s a different audience than I think companies in general would be targeting. To keep that in mind, in a way it’s also how I phrase certain things, how I put certain things out there, and to know my work represents the U.S. government. Being super careful about that is something that I’ve learned as an intern here, and it’s something that I will consider going into the future to always be thinking about who the audience is, and what graphics or designs will reach them. 

SM: So you have a couple more months with us, what are some of the goals you have that you hope to have done by the time you’ve completed this internship?

GY: Right now, I guess it’s not so much my goal, but I know we are working on it as a department to actually start getting the videos onto YouTube and other social media channels. Right now they are kind of just sitting on Trello, so I really look forward to seeing the videos being uploaded on social media and to see what other people’s reactions are and the engagement that these videos can bring. I really hope to see that soon. It’s been in talks since last year, so hopefully that’s happening soon.

SM: So you graduate in May, what’s going to be next? What do you hope to do after, what are your goals?

GY: I think right now I feel like I’m really torn between which way to go because I really want to pursue film, but at the same time I think there’s an understanding that the three big film capitals are Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta, which means unless I decide to move, I might have to compromise a bit. But what I’ve been doing is looking for remote opportunities, especially during covid, as well as looking for opportunities around my region, in terms of video production, video editing, or even design. Having a marketing background provides me with an additional path in terms of looking for jobs. Ideally, and I might be dreaming a bit, but I would really like to be working in video production, to be on set and to learn the whole process and really get hands-on experience. I want to work my way up in the industry.

SM: That makes perfect sense. So what is your advice for new interns, or people just starting out in this process?

GY: I think my advice for any intern is don’t be afraid to take on new challenges. There is so much support in this internship that if you don’t know something, you can easily reach out to another intern, to your DO, to your DH, or even your ELT. They will help you to navigate this whole internship, so I think one, don’t be afraid to take on new challenges, and two, be active in communicating, especially because this is a virtual internship. 

SM: Yeah, that’s great advice, especially as an ELT, reach out to us, we’re also just interns. I’ve had conversations with interns and sometimes people are intimidated, but don’t be. So this was really great and I think our listeners learned a lot. Before we wrap up, we always ask our interns, what is a fun fact about yourself? 

GY: One fun fact about me is I’ve actually studied abroad in Taiwan my sophomore year of college. That was a really amazing experience for me because even though I’m Taiwanese American, and I grew up knowing the culture and the language, being able to immerse myself in that country really opened my eyes to even more aspects of the culture. I think at the same time, it gave me a chance to connect with my family there. 

SM: That’s really interesting and I’ve always wanted to study abroad. Thank you so much for doing this Grace, I think our listeners will get a lot out of this and we wish you all the best for the rest of your time at the internship and going forward. 

GY: Thank you, and it was a pleasure talking with you.

SM: 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!