Midpoint Reflections at IIB

It’s hard to believe that I am more than halfway done with my internship. I started my role the day after I finished finals, and I have exactly one month left at the International Institute of Boston (IBB). When I arrived at IIB, I was somewhat overwhelmed with program acronyms and the names of services offered. Now, I’m at a point where new staff are shadowing me in my work. There is a new Employment Specialist, and she often comes to me with questions about clients and programs. I still love the work I do as well as my increasing responsibilities. Surprisingly, a big boost in confidence actually came when my supervisor left the organization. I was worried that I would be left with many questions and feeling somewhat directionless, however, I have just become more self-directed. I am confident in my ability to direct clients who need help looking for jobs, proactively reaching out to clients by phone, filing reports, and running the Cultural Orientation Program or the Workforce Orientation Workshop. When one client told me he got his Social Security number on Friday, after class on Monday, I scheduled an appointment with him to apply for jobs on Wednesday. I now have a better list in my mind of which companies our clients succeed at and which clients and companies make for a good fit.

My view from a table where I often meet with clients in our temporary space
My view from a table where I often meet with clients in our temporary space

The world of work is different from university and academic life, but I have applied university and academic life to my internship. I love my work because I am a hands-on learner. I learn best from experience, and I think I will learn more skills from having an internship than from sitting in a classroom. Some skills I have built relate to problem solving, communication, flexibility, patience, resilience, teaching, language, and even technology. I have worked at the front desk directing phone calls that I did not know how to answer. I have worked with another intern to create a status report of certain clients neither of us had ever worked with. I have had to figure out how to teach people who do not speak English or French. Resilience is a major skill I have built, and it has helped me problem solve and be patient. I have also learned the importance of communication. These skills are all transferable to my future – academically, professionally, and personally. I see academics as a way to learn information, have discussions, ask questions, and gain interests. I have used knowledge from my Politics and Economics classes, and I have applied experience as a Waltham Group coordinator and Teaching Assistant at Lemberg.

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Free Fun Friday at the Edward Kennedy Institute. Sylvia (other intern I teach with, pictured here) and I decided to tour the clients around ourselves, because we could more effectively explain US government and history than the official tour guides, as we catered to their English levels and related the material to their refugee status.

It has sometimes been hard to work in a temporary space so I look forward to moving into our brand new building in early August. I am also excited to take the refugees on more Free Fun Friday trips, and to go to many of the places I have been to while growing up near Boston. I am also enjoying the Olympics games which for the first time has a Refugee Olympic Team. This team is different from the Independent Olympic Athletes. The Olympic committee states that “Ten refugee athletes will act as a symbol of hope for refugees worldwide and bring global attention to the magnitude of the refugee crisis when they take part in the Olympic Games Rio 2016 this summer.” I think having a team of refugees is important because it shows how the international community can respond positively to the current European migrant crisis and the Syrian Civil War by allowing these athletes to compete in the biggest sports event in the world, despite the fact that they cannot be in their home country. I know I will be watching and thinking of what my clients have gone through and left behind before starting a new life in Boston. In my last month, I hope to use all the skills (and Spanish) I have learned, and to think more what kind of work I want to do in the future.

Emilie Kahn-Boesel ’18

1 thought on “Midpoint Reflections at IIB”

  1. Emilie,

    It sounds like you are fiercely attacking every challenge that comes your way, and you’re learning a lot in the process. Your boss leaving was a good thing in that it pushed you to take a leadership role and gain confidence in your abilities. I agree with you that we learn the most by doing and through experiences. You have already gained so many critical skills from this internship. I’m excited to hear about your reflection at the end of your internship. Keep up the great work!

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