As I sit here and write this, as cliche as it may sound, I can not believe that it is the last week of classes and that my internship at Journey’s End is coming to a close. It really does seem like just yesterday I was a bundle of nerves, feeling like the new kid at school. Throughout my time at Journey’s End I have met so many people and had so many experiences that are so invaluable and I will never forget.
Although I’ve done research on the work nonprofits do, I was going in pretty blind as to what the environment would be like. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, the first day you get there you learn that every day following will be something different. You may have a plan at the beginning of the day, but 20 minutes later that plan is out the window, and you now have to deal with 12 different issues by the time you leave. While this may sound terrifying, which it absolutely is, and something that most might not look forward to, this was my absolute favorite part of my internship. The majority of the lessons I was taught while at Journey’s End came from these hectic situations where I needed to adapt and be flexible in order to go with the flow. You realize very soon that freaking out and shutting down when something doesn’t go exactly how you thought it was going to is not an option at a nonprofit. You need to try and be at your very best every day, and even when you’re not, you can’t let it break you down. It really took multitasking to a whole new level for me.
I also have never really been the most assertive or self confident person, especially when it comes to working in new environments. So, going into this internship, something that I haven’t even come close to experiencing before, it was really hard to build up the courage to pitch my ideas. Even when we did the mid-semester evaluations, one of the things my supervisor and I were both able to point out as something I needed to improve on was speaking up more. However, as time went on, and I became more comfortable I was able to really come into my own. I started giving more ideas for the weekly newsletter and the monthly check ins. It was really validating when I started to do this and got complimented and commended for it. It just kind of makes you think, wow, why didn’t I start doing this earlier? Not only that, but when I learned to speak up, and the idea might not have been the best, the constructive criticism I received only helped to further my knowledge in the field.
It was also so amazing to work in an environment with such diversity. Right now, the refugee topic in this country and how it’s being displayed in the media is so controversial, and what many are looking past is the fact that we’re arguing about actual people and their lives. I have met so many amazing people through the programs at Journey’s End, specifically Women’s Group, who have resettled and found a new home here in Buffalo. Seeing how much they’ve contributed to the Buffalo community and how thankful they are to the people at Journey’s End is seriously incredible. Not only that, but being able to talk to different volunteers and see how their clients have had just as much of an impact on their lives is so heart-warming. In my personal opinion we should always be open to learning about different perspectives and new cultures because it only betters us as human beings.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, are the people that I’ve gotten to connect with while at my internship. Every single person I’ve met who works for Journey’s End, from interpreting to ESL teachers, have really made my experience there that much more of something to look forward to. But really, I want to take this time to sincerely thank my supervisor, Bryana. I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am that you chose me as your intern and took me under your wing. I’ve learned so much over this past semester and you have been the best mentor I could have asked for. Thank you for taking the time to teach me your ways in the world of nonprofits, and, also, always being there to tell me the code to get into the office when I forget. I wish I could think of one specific memory to share, but there have been so many I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Thank you for all the laughs and pieces of advice that I know I’ll take with me in every nonprofit I work in. Really, just thank you, so so much.
Overall, my time at Journey’s End has been so rewarding and I can honestly say one of the best things I’ve chosen to pursue while at Canisius. Specifically, working with the volunteer department, I’ve gotten to see just how much people genuinely want to help others, and not because it’s a requirement for a class (although that does happen sometimes and I’m not saying it’s a bad thing). Getting the chance to work with people who really just want to make a difference in the community they live in has been so eye-opening. It has given me that push in the direction that will not only help me become more decisive in my professional goals, but, will also help me become a voice for underprivileged communities.