This post comes from Hanna, who has recently joined the team as an intern within our Children’s Programme.
“Recently, there’s been a lot of debate on the ethics of internships and whether or not it’s a case of exploitation to work for several months without being paid. The stereotypical image of an intern is a young person making coffee and running errands for staff members.
Well…this is not the case at Body & Soul, that’s for sure! I thought I’d give you a brief summary of a day in the shoes of an intern in the Children’s Programme at Body & Soul to show just what I get up to here:
9:30 AM: coming into the office, setting up at the computer and having the first cup of tea (surely won’t be the last one…)
10 AM: on Mondays, all of the team meets to talk about achievements from the previous week and plans for the week to come. On other days I meet shortly with Jane, the Head of the Children’s Centre to discuss what is on the agenda for that day and week.
11AM: On Mondays, we interns are invited to an Intern Master class, in which staff members take turns in sharing their knowledge of the different areas of work the organisation does, and their own professional expertise. Past Master classes have included the topics of CV writing and enhancement, the importance of Social Media, Body & Soul’s Impact Strategy and the Children’s Services. They are a great bonus to the internship since they broaden our understanding of the way a non-governmental organisation is set up and what role each staff member plays in achieving its vision.
11AM- 1PM: A variety of tasks including
• Providing Advocacy and Casework for our members:
This includes filling out Hardship Applications in close contact with members to provide financial support for them, making support phone calls and catching up on their current situation and needs. It’s quite a rewarding and personal experience, since you get to see the difference your work will make in a very straightforward way, and you provide emotional support and guidance directly.
• Blogging about issues of interest and the amazing experience I’m having
This is amazing fun as you have the opportunity to raise awareness and choose the topic yourself!
1PM: My stomach grumbles, it’s telling me quite directly that it’s hungry, so I head to the nearby Exmouth Market with a huge variety of food to get something to eat. By the way, even though we interns are volunteers, Body & Soul covers the transport costs and lunch expenses, so we can enjoy a nice hot lunch. We can take up to 1 hour for lunch … exploitation definitely looks different!
• Planning and Preparation of the Children’s Service Evening on Tuesday nights. This means I get to spend time in the Children’s Centre (the colourful children’s paradise!) setting up the activities.
• Implementing my own projects and ideas. I’m working on setting up a network database with pediatric specialists for children living with HIV and looking at their procedures in regard to the children.
5:30PM: Time to go home or to an occasional social evening with the team, it’s great to get to know everyone on a personal level.
4:00-9PM (on a Tuesday): members start coming in with their children around 4:00pm.
• Giving 1:1 support to adult members, showing empathy, understanding and trust.
• Playing with loooots of children from 0-9 years of age, doing the activities with them and showing interest in their personal concerns and situations. Very loud, very busy, amazing FUN!!!!
Overall, it’s a really rewarding experience to be an intern at Body & Soul. Apart from the tasks I listed above, I have the opportunity to give feedback at all times, and get involved in specific areas of interest or develop my own ideas and start up my own projects. Here, I have essential guidance and boundaries, but at the same time the freedom, support and space to explore and try out new ideas.
Body & Soul is a dynamic and exciting organisation that challenges you, gets you involved in responsible and relevant tasks, and provides you with the chance to develop to your skills and realize your full potential. I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to get an in-depth insight into the third sector.
So what are you waiting for? Are you going to be the next intern?”