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My ‘real world’ schedule contains a lot of free time, similar to my schedule on campus as a student. However, depending on your lifestyle you may feel that the ‘real world’ schedule is more freeing to do things at the time you want and less stressful. Please note that these are my observations and stating a difference between the two types of schedules is subjective to one’s personal goals and agendas. For that reason, I will share the differences I have noticed between my two schedules. I am basing my ‘real world’ schedule on this summer’s everyday routine.

I prefer the real world schedule – which is my work life schedule – over my busy academic lifestyle as a student. While I do not mind the academic work, I just rather not have a schedule that contains blocks of time to sit in classes, hours of homework for those classes, campus activities, and work. I prefer working, having academic work to do with nice spaced deadlines, and free time to do activities that I enjoy. Basically sitting in class for long periods of time and spending a lot of time on homework is not fun to me. Simply, my life on campus seems to cramp a lot of things into 24 hours and it is always in my face, because leaving on campus does not truly give me the option to retreat from the busy academic setting. Whereas when I leave the office I intern at in the afternoon I know I am going home where it is a completely different setting and the work from the office does not follow me home. Consequently, I have realized that I prefer jobs where my work environment does not accompany me home.

This summer I have an academic project that I am working on, my internship, my Dickinson blogs, the Dickinson Internship Notation Program, and a project that I am working on with a mentor of mine for immigrant and refugee youth. So I am not free from the academic lifestyle or activities, but I enjoy them because I get to do them on my own schedule. I just have to make sure I meet my deadlines. Since I am not over whelmed with other academic work apart from my academic project I get to pace myself to get it done, rather than procrastinating because I have so much urgent work to do for other courses. Therefore, my work life gives me the freedom to get things done in time because I am not stressed with other work.

As you may have been able to detect from this blog, I do not like being stressed – I don’t think anyone does. My stressors usually come from having homework assignments due back to back and having an overwhelmingly very busy schedules when I am on campus. Hence, why I prefer my ‘real world’ schedule which is also busy but with minimum stress and ample time to get tasks done.

Every setting has a dress code – whether we like to acknowledge it or not. Dress codes are not bad. However, dress codes can pose us problems if they do not align with what we deem as convenient or fair. While it is not always easy to abide by rules set in place, dress codes are one of those rules that it is necessary to abide by in the work place.

As an intern at an NGO which resettles refugees from different parts of the globe, it is essential that we have a dress code to abide by. While the dress code in place at the IRC, in my opinion, is very convenient and doable, it is important to me that I make sure I am respecting it and the community I am apart of when I go to work. Our dress code is very simple – we just have to aim for business casual and on Fridays we have ‘Dress down day’.

Although it is very easy for me to say that the dress code is not difficult to abide by, I would be misguiding you if I do not mention the fact that the organization I intern for is not blind to the fact that we work with clients from different cultures and religions. Thus, its aim is that everyone in the office do their best to dress in ways that are respectful of other people’s cultures and religions when dressing professionally  and or business casual. While arguments can be made against dressing in ways that consider the culture and or religion of the different individuals that make up our community at work, it is simply a part of work ethics to follow the dress code.

Lastly, I believe it is good to be sensitive to other people’s cultural and or religious/faith backgrounds so that we do not overstep our boundaries. For instance, people who come from parts of the world where men and women do not make eye contact learn how to be sensitive to western culture when they come to a western nation like the U.S.A.; case in point, they learn how to make eye contact with people when they are speaking. Therefore, it does not remove from who we deem ourselves to be to also be sensitive to other people’s cultures and or religious backgrounds, because there is no one true American identity or way of doing things.

Cultural sensitivity does not impose on dress codes in the work place, but guides the makeup of dress codes.

Come to work on time.

Greet the people in the office as you come in. Saying “Good morning.” is a respectful way to address people in the office and also a great way to star your day. If you happen to be running late let your boss know. Communicate via email, phone, or text – if applicable. Communicating lets the people you work with know that you care about your job and that you are committed to the team of people you work with and the work you guys do.

Be Organized.

Have a to do list where you write a list of things that you have to get done for the day. Prioritize the most important things to be completed first. Do not have a rigid to do list which leaves no room for your supervisor or co-worker whom you work with to ask you to add other work to your list to be done for to day.

Be Proactive.

“Always be up and doing”. I often heard this saying growing up as a way to challenge me to always keep myself busy and getting something done – not allowing my time to waste away. In summary, it is a quick way to express to someone that he or she should have a go-getter attitude.

Secondly, while you prioritize the list of your work you have to get done, it is essential to attempt to cover all the bases of the tasks at hand. For example, before I leave the office every day I do my best to have at least a comment to report back to my boss about each task I have/had on my to-do list. This is helpful for my boss to know that I attempted tackling all my assignments and that I was not sitting around all day doing nothing. It also gives me time to complete tasks that require a lot of follow up. Let’s say you have a position that is similar to mine in terms of having to constantly contact different people to do follow ups, it is advisable to start as early as possible; you might need to call other people to obtain the answer to your question and very often have to leave voice messages because people are busy with other things at their respective jobs and can’t answer their phones.

Have a good attitude.

Even when it’s not convenient, do your best to maintain a positive attitude. Sometimes the work you do is overwhelming, because you feel like you have to knock on a ten doors to get at least three open – at least that is how I feel about having to chase people down every time I call an office to request basic information for a client’s case. Other times you might just feel like the intern who has 20 files stacked in front of her to go through by the end of the day. As mentioned earlier, learn how to prioritize your work, that will save you a lot of time.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou

 

As an Intensive Case Management (ICM) Intern at the International Rescue Committee, a refugee resettlement agency, I have learned that the training is intense. I spent one official day receiving training with all the other interns who were starting their positions for the summer. My first three official days of work was a boot camp for the work to come. The person who trained me basically gave me a crash-course on all the work that I will have to do, situations that may occur, and how the office runs. Honestly, it was overwhelming and a tad-bit boring – but that is expected. Training is never really a fun thing to go through but it is necessary to do, I chose to persevere through the mundane process because it is an essential part of the foundation of having a successful internship .

By the last day of my first week, my fourth official day at work, I was getting work done! I booked transportation arrangements for some clients and even trained my fellow co-intern how to do the work I was doing that day. It happened to be his first day at work, so it was nice to know that I was able to explain to someone else what I had just learned, because it made me confident that I understood what I was taught. That same day both of us were randomly given the opportunity to translate a message another department had for some of our clients about an upcoming program for children to enroll in. I translated the message to French while my co-intern translated to Dari and Farsi. I’m glad I said yes to the director who asked if, because it turns out we have something in common. Be on the look out for a blog on my random conversation with that director.

Anyway, my second week went by so fast it was ridiculous. I told myself that I would work from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., but I found myself staying as late as 6 p.m. and the earliest I ever left that week was around 3 p.m. No one forced me to stay late. I saw that there was so much work to be done and amidst of the schedule I had for myself someone in the office would either need me to translate or cover the front desk, hence the time literally flew before my eyes.

From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. time went by as it normally would, but once 11 a.m. hit if I don’t look at a clock before I know it would be 2 p.m. or passed it – because the office is so busy then. However, I really enjoy the fact that I am offering service to refugees, asylees, parolees, and SIVs in my home community (NJ), so the hours I spend beyond my schedule are worth it. However, I had to make sure I do my best to keep to the hours I set for myself, because I started getting bad headaches after work and if I really want to be of help to the office it is in my best interest that I am physically well and fit to work.

An aspect that I appreciate about my internship is the diversity of the team of employees and interns. I have never been in an office so diverse. There is at least more than one person whose origin is from one the following continents and regions: Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and South America. It is not uncommon to hear about 3-4 languages being spoken simultaneously in different offices if I’m standing in the hallway. Some of the Languages – apart from English – many of the workers are fluent in are Arabic, Creole (Haiti), Dari, Farsi, French, Spanish, Swahili, Ga, Ewe, Turkish, Akan/Twi, Urdu, and Yoruba. Also, – as I expected – the office is not male dominated, which has many advantages because there is a balance of representation and ideas.

Lastly, I have been feeling on top of things in the office lately and it is a great feeling because I know I can take on more tasks. Thus, now I am learning how to rise to face news challenges constantly, because my supervisors are always ready to help me move on to the next level – it’s kind of like playing a game. You learn how to win one level so you can move on the next and you keep on going until you can play no more. Last week I had my first meeting with a client and now I have more meetings coming up with other clients. Similarly, a coworker of mine knew I spoke a little bit of Spanish and decided to give me the opportunity to interpret a brief interaction between her and some clients to practice my Spanish skills, she has now decided that if I am available when she needs a Spanish speaking person she will contact me.

Hence, my internship has challenged me positively in different ways and the people I work with have made the environment one that is welcoming for me.

That’s it for now, be on the look out for my next post! 🙂

 

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