Learning to be an intern

Faculty of Social Sciences
From the Field
The Democratic Republic of the Congo

By Olivia

Student, Psychology

An international map
“My first month of being an intern at SOFEDI in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been far different from my expectations.”

Olivia, Psychology, ALTERNATIVES, Democratic Republic of Congo, Solidarité des femmes pour le développement integral (SOFEDI)

Despite the preparations I made such as reading past blogs and pre-departure training that led me to believe I knew what to expect, I think the reality of it being far different from what I expected is a really good experience to lean into my abilities of adaptability and flexibility. Remembering that things can change and that remaining flexible throughout it all is one of the best tools I can suggest to future interns.

So far, I have been asked to translate documents which I feel comfortable with thanks to my bilingualism and to compose some documentation. This particular documentation task left me perplexed because there wasn’t as much instruction and detailed guideline that I would have hoped for. In this case, I realized I had to compose good questions and admit that I needed further help. Future interns should know to expect that sometimes they will be asked things they do not quite understand. Part of the learning experience in this is to learn what we can accomplish on our own and how to efficiently ask for more clarification, help and feedback when needed.

Despite these challenges, I have had the chance to learn so much about the important issues that I hold dear to my heart. For instance, reading over the documents from SOFEDI and hearing from the team has provided me the chance to learn about the reality of women’s reproductive and sexual rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While reading reports they have composed it caused me to pause and reflect on the passion and commitment they must have toward the organization. I am seeing first-hand the dedication and hard work required to bring change to a culture and to government. It has made me even more appreciative of the work of NGO’s all around the world and inspired me to bring my same passion for women’s rights while I am completing tasks for the organization. Being passionate about a topic or issue makes the work I am doing so much more meaningful and important. This is why I recommend that future interns focus on choosing to work for an organization that supports issues they are passionate about. 

I am looking forward to the rest of my internship and hopeful that I contribute however small my part may be, towards the progress and changes this organization is working towards.