As I reached the end of my internship, I couldn’t help but look back on how far I came and all the positive memories, mixed with necessary struggles. Interning with an organization that centers around human and civil rights can be, truthfully, emotionally draining because most often then not I was working around sensitive topics. When every day you learn about another case of human rights abuses or barrier towards equality in someone’s life, the environment can feel bleak. Looking back and knowing what I know now, I would have reminded myself of how important every piece of work is.
This also includes the days where it seemed like I was just doing busy, useless work that I didn’t see myself spending my hours on. Again, this a reminder that those small tasks that may seem mundane and irrelevant add up to the larger effort of whatever goal is in mind. I would also say to not kick yourself down if you feel like you are being handed-off smaller tasks. For many of us in our initial internships, we are climbing the ladder towards larger positions we hope to have. In the same way that encountering hard topics can seem difficult to maneuver around, starting somewhere is key towards effective progress.
I would also jump off of that in saying don’t be afraid to make mistakes. While I’ve spent hours beating myself about some small mistake I’ve made, more often than not you are the only one who really notices. Going easy on yourself is essential towards feeling comfortable in your work, and no productive work comes with high levels of discomfort.
Looking back, I also wish I explored the community I was interning in more. Even if it is just a walk around the neighborhood of the place you are staying in, you’ll be surprised what you encounter. Overall, just take risks while also ensuring your own safety and the safety of others around you.