Overall, since the beginning of this entire process, it’s been a cycle in terms of my feelings about my internship at Journey’s End Refugee Services. At first, it was mostly nerves over the interviewing process. To be entirely honest I had never gone through a formal interview. I was a nanny for most summers and it was always for a friend of the family, so although I met with them, it wasn’t too serious.
In addition, this internship was one that I really wanted. It wasn’t like I was looking to get placed here just for the sake of having somewhere to intern. I researched Journey’s End. I’ve known about its place in the Buffalo community for a while and the work that the organization does is extremely inspiring to me. Their message is one I find myself truly being able to have passion for. It felt like there was so much riding on it. However, the cycle shifted once I found out I had gotten the position and what it entailed. The nerves were replaced with excitement in knowing that I would now get to be involved with a movement so much bigger than anything I had been a part of before.
Unfortunately, these feelings were short lived since two weeks later, right before the start date of my internship, I found myself an anxious mess once again. I realized that over the past few weeks since confirming my position as Volunteer Management Intern, I had already set so many high expectations for myself. Not only that, but I began thinking of the expectations others at the organization had set for me as well, people I may not have even met yet. Then I realized the depressing notion I may not live up to these expectations.
At Canisius, especially since I am a senior about to graduate, I feel pretty established at the college. I’m a good student. I receive good grades most of the time. I know and have developed relationships with most of my professors by now. In the classroom setting I’m extremely comfortable, and that was the key word, comfortable. I realized that’s what all of the anxiety was over. All of a sudden, I was about to be thrown into this completely new environment where I didn’t yet have a solid ground to stand on. Whether it was fear of disappointing my supervisor or just basic things like obsessing over whether I’d make it to the subway on time or if what I was wearing fell under “business casual,” all stemmed from a lack of self confidence. When we don’t have confidence in our abilities, we tend to want to recoil back into our comfort zones. We search for safety nets. And as much as I wanted to do that, I knew if I did, I would only be hurting myself.
I’ve now been at my internship for a couple of weeks, and like most things, it has turned out way better than I built up in my head. Everyone is so nice and welcoming, I’m already learning so much about what it’s like to work at a small non-profit, and I’ve discovered a newfound love for label makers. I’m starting to talk to more people and learn about the different sectors within the organization ranging from education to legal. It’s amazing to see people from all different backgrounds coming together for a common cause. The office of Volunteer Management recently moved from the 3rd floor to the 4th. We’re now sharing a room with Interpreting so I’m interested in getting a closer look at the inner workings of that department.
Right now, since it’s just the beginning, I’ve been working a lot with getting the database up to date so we can have a good understanding of the status of each volunteer. We’ve got around 500 long term volunteers at Journey’s End and only one person (my supervisor) in charge of all of them. Going through applications and making sure people get placed in the right category is tedious work, but important nonetheless. We want to make sure all volunteers are using their skills in the best way possible to help with the resettlement process. It’s vital to the success of the refugees.
I’m also very eager about the future projects I’ve discussed with my supervisor. One example is being able to use my love of writing to showcase profiles on different volunteers and refugees and their experiences working with Journey’s End. It’s nice that the nerves have settled a bit and the excitement is back. Although I know it’ll always be an ongoing cycle when it comes to the emotions I’ll feel throughout the semester, I truly am looking forward to every minute of it.
I’m not usually one to use sappy quotes, but there is one I can recall by William G.T. Shedd, which I’m sure I saw on Pinterest, that states, “A ship is always safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” For the past almost four years Canisius has been my harbor, but I’m ready to set sail on a new adventure at Journey’s End, and hopefully learn so much during the ride.