After completing my internship at the Indianapolis Worker Justice Center (IWJC) I learned a lot about the labor movement and some more about what it means to organize both in unions and in other labor organizations. I wish I were able to take a more active role in the organizing efforts, but it was difficult to find a place in an organization without staff, especially because they are still figuring out the exact tactics they want to pursue themselves.
However, I was interested in the work that I was able to do. I know that I want to work for an organization with the goals of activism and organizing, trying to assist people in their quest for justice rather then helping them and seeing themselves as the savior of others. However, I am not sure if labor is the right direction for me, it is very important work but I am not sure if it’s my passion.
The Interfaith Worker Justice internship program can be very good, and I heard from interns that went to other affiliate organizations and had a great time. It was challenging working at an organization that was not staffed. If any students end up interning for an organization that does not have any staff, make sure that your expectations and the site’s expectations are both clear from the onset. I did not do that and I think it was a mistake. I would tell students interested in working in the labor movement to pay attention to the inter-organizational and union politics. I found it very interesting to see how groups that are trying to achieve the same things (or at least claiming to) are not necessarily able to because they are focused on other things.
I am most proud of being able to contribute to the organization even though I had very little structure. I am also proud of the religious ally training that I created and led. It was challenging to create something independently, but I was able to facilitate a conversation about different religions and the importance of understanding and respecting other peoples’ practices when working together. We had a conversation that would probably not have occurred in a different setting, and those of us who attended all enjoyed it and learned something that evening.
– Tamar Lyssy ’17