I feel really fortunate to have had the internship experience I did this summer. I have never been a part of a team that is so supportive and appreciative of my work experience. This internship taught me many things, but it most importantly taught me the importance of a positive and healthy work environment. Especially in an organization focused on a social justice issue, having a stressful work environment can be detrimental to employees’ mental health, and therefore harmful to the mission of the organization as a whole. REACH emphasizes self-care and supporting one another, which is key since working with victims of domestic violence can impact people in different ways. This emphasis on self-care has made coming to work so much more enjoyable, and furthermore, it has made dealing with very difficult cases much more manageable. I feel comfortable advocating for myself and prioritizing my mental health because the organization I am a part of prioritizes these things.
During my time at my internship here at REACH, I have been contributed to many logistical day-to-day tasks such as answering phone calls and supporting people via online chat. Everyone at REACH has many important duties, so I am happy I was able to offer this logistical support to their already very demanding jobs. I also offered some ideas on how to reach out to the community in order to recruit potential volunteers, and also to inform people who may need our services.
Throughout this summer, I have grown a lot in my role at REACH. I wish I could have told myself that sometimes there will be hard days. I knew that this work would be impactful emotionally, but I do not think I fully understood the meaning and implications of that. I wish I had known that some cases will really hit close to home, and will impact me more than I would think and that this is okay. Even on the hard days, my supervisors made me feel supported, and I was able to do what I needed to do to take care of myself. Additionally, I wish I could tell myself how important it is to seriously reflect on what self-care is to me. Self-care is different for everyone, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to taking care of oneself.
For the next set of interns coming to REACH, I would tell them exactly what I wish I would have told myself. I would tell them that sometimes, this work is hard, and it’s very important to reflect on how you can support yourself. It is easier to do this reflection before you have those hard days, but regardless, it is very important to have that conversation with yourself. I would also tell them that they should advocate for themselves and that this advocacy is very much supported and encouraged by the supervisors at REACH.