“Helping People on the Ground,” Kenji Fujinaka on their internship at the QLaw Foundation

Submitted by Whitney Miller on

When Kenji Fujinaka started their social media internship at the QLaw Foundation, they entered a completely new, yet fulfilling realm of law and legislation. 

QLaw Foundation of Washington is a local nonprofit organization that “promotes the dignity and respect of LGBTQ2S+ Washingtonians within the legal system through advocacy, education, and legal assistance.” They have LGBTQ2S+ and Trans legal clinics that provide free consultation, and provide free legal resources for community members to support them in best understanding and advocating for their rights. As the social media manager, Kenji was in charge of marketing for QLaw’s Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter sites. 

Finding the right internship

Kenji found this opportunity through one of the many GWSS listserv emails highlighting intern opportunities at and beyond the UW. This one introduced them to the Undergraduate Community Based Internships (UCBI) program at UW, “a paid internship program that places undergraduates in nonprofit and public sector organizations.” This is a fantastic opportunity for students who have a passion for exploring and giving back to local communities through public service. 

“I looked at the organizations and the programs [in UCBI], it just seemed pretty appealing. You do get paid, which I would say, for working as an intern in a non-profit, is pretty surprising. It's because you get paid through UW.” Kenji also really appreciated the convenience of applying for internships through UCBI. “You sent in one application and then interviewed with each of the organizations you possibly want to intern with. So I feel like that process is just a lot more streamlined rather than having to make [an internship opportunity] for yourself.” After interviewing with their manager, Kenji was offered their social media manager position at QLaw, even without previous marketing or law-related experience.

Helping people on the ground

“I mean the legal system is not very nice to queer people. I mean, I knew that living my life.” As Kenji pointed out, the law field can be intimidating for folks who do not have expertise in this field, especially for members of LGBTQ2S+ communities who are constantly experiencing systematic marginalization and alienation from the law. Kenji’s main goal was to provide legal knowledge in the most accessible way for the community, using graphic design skills, inclusive language choices, and translation to Spanish when needed.

This unique journey in the unfamiliar field of law helped Kenji extend their GWSS knowledge outward from the classroom and consider possible future career paths. Through the many GWSS classes focused on Queer and Trans scholarship that Kenji had taken, legal systems’ oppression of the LGBTQ+ community was a familiar topic. This internship helped Kenji further bridge the connection by providing opportunities to “help people on the ground.” It also gave Kenji experience working at a non-profit organization, providing perspective on its working dynamics and allowing them to gain knowledge about program grants, which they had always wanted to try. This internship helped them more fully consider the possibility of joining a non-profit organization after graduation. 

Lastly, Kenji shared advice for current and prospective GWSS students who feel unsure about their future careers, which was a valid concern once for Kenji as well. “The opportunities are out there, and it kind of sucks in some ways because you might not instantly land something like someone in a tech job would. And you probably have to think a little more about who you are, what you're good at, and what you enjoy doing, so that you can find opportunities that fit what you want and how you'd like to work. But in some ways, I think that's more beneficial anyway, because if you know yourself better, then it's better all around, and you'll probably have higher job satisfaction going forward.”

Story Credit: Simona Liao, GWSS Communications Intern