Meet Our Interns: Nikki N.

Getting Ready for my OHIP Internship

By Nikki N.

I am glad to have the opportunity to do my internship through the Occupational Health Internship program. I got my internship through stalking the DEOHS career page, finding the opportunity, and speaking about my passion to occupational health through the essay questions, cover letter, resume, and letter of recommendation.

The Occupational Health Internship program is a national internship funded by NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) with the intention of training students about occupational health in hopes of them being the future leaders in the field. The program matches 20-28 students with prechosen projects with different union organizations and academic institutions in different urban cities like Chicago, LA, and New York.  Some examples for this year includes looking at Labor and Workplace conditions of Tesla workers (San Francisco), documenting hazards and the injury experiences of grocery workers (Chicago), and hazard characterization in the IBT-represented Department of Energy Sites (DC Area).  My preferences in toxicology and my Vietnamese background made me a good fit to work in the Los Angeles Site with the UCLA and the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative partnership. At this site, I will provide outreach for healthy nail salons around Santa Monica (where the workers are 50-80% Vietnamese) so that both workers and consumers will can enjoy a safer environment.

Because Environmental/Occupational health is interdisciplinary, a three day orientation is held to get everyone on track. Here we get information such as background on our project, our workplan, and other details related to the program. Shown here is just a few of the documents I’ve needed in preparation for the internship.

I’m excited to work with an amazing partner from UCLA on the “Pretty Shouldn’t Stink: supporting the health of nail salon workers in California.” My focus will be to recruit nail salons to join the Santa Monica Healthy Nail Salon Recognition Program for less toxic nail salons (salons with ventilation/glove use and without some of the more toxic chemicals in their products. I will also conduct outreach and trainings to nail salon owners and workers on health, safety, and their worker’s rights. I will ultimately develop a factsheet to educate nail salon workers on their rights. With rising national concerns over health hazards in nail salons, I am especially excited to hear the workers’ perspectives and stories about working in nail salons. I look forward to learning about how potential health hazards may have affected these workers, and providing them with some knowledge on safer practices in their salons.  However, I am also nervous for the same reason. In some cases, change has not happened for a reason, and I want to make sure I am providing this information in a way where the workers will want to receive it. Regardless, it will be an amazing opportunity to interact with workers, see first-hand the hazards of the workplace, and work towards education and mitigation.

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