During Intersession of my freshman fall semester, I participated in a Princeternship hosted by Ms. Kristin Epstein ‘97, the executive director of YingHua International School, with Julie, a sophomore. At first I was a little nervous about shadowing an alumna, but Ms. Epstein’s friendly demeanor immediately put me at ease. Without reservation, she told me about the school and gave me a tour, during which she introduced me to all of her co-workers. Afterwards, she took me out to lunch and told me her story from the time at Princeton to her transition from an environmental engineer to an education administrator. As an executive director in a full time Chinese Immersion School, she handles jobs that really run the gamut: from running parent’s meetings to drafting employee’s handbook, from negotiating contracts for a new location to leading tours for prospective parents, she does it all because she believes in the cause of the school.
On the second day she invited us to a parents’ meeting, after which she shared with us what she thought about the parents’ attitude. I found her insights to be extremely helpful in understanding a situation from an administrator’s point of view and making assumptions based on what I observed.
My original goal was to learn about education administration, but from this Princeternship experience I learned much more. It exposed me not only to the educational sector but also to aspects of running a nonprofit organization. In the three days I was there, I got the chance to understand, not only by observing but also by helping out, the many challenges of running a private school. However, the struggles only made me more eager to work in the nonprofit sector and contribute to the society in a powerful way.