Work Expectations: Similarities and Differences #2

As a volunteer manager, I started working with Brilliant Detroit with the impression that I’d be in an office planning the schedules for volunteers, directing volunteers during events and programs, and encouraging them to work with us again through thank you letters. On top of that, since the central focuses of Brilliant Detroit are the kids’ education and wellbeing and unifying the community, I thought I would be spending part of my time working with kids and getting to know their families.

Over the last several weeks, these things have happened, but not as I imagined. One of the first things that surprised me was that my boss created a question and goals sheet, (i.e. a learning plan), not only for the internship but for my pursuits on an academic and personal level as well. I included questions like:

How can I integrate myself into the Brilliant Detroit community during my next two months here?
How do I effectively work with volunteers and what do I want to see them doing?
How do I generate new creative work consistently? What action steps can I take each day? What do I do when I don’t feel like writing?
What do I know about educational issues the city of Detroit faces?
How can I integrate myself into the Brilliant Detroit community during my next two months here?

Under each is a column that answers the rationale for wanting to know the answer to that question, the means to the answer (e.g. through a co-worker, online research, friends, family, etc.), the evidence (i.e. the tangible proof), a reviewer (someone to hold me accountable), and additional questions.

As for the other differences in expectations, it was merely that some events never happened, like the Wash and Learn event where I’d be reading and playing literacy games with kids while their parents do their laundry. Instead, I helped with a health and wellness camp part-time for four weeks. I loved every second of it.

Overall, though I have been most surprised by how quickly I was welcomed into this family. There will always be a place for me to come back and support this organization in any capacity. I was a bit nervous coming into the internship, but most of that anxiety was washed away after the first few days of working with the friendly people at Brilliant Detroit.

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