Americares: Expectations vs. Reality

After six weeks of being at Americares, I can easily see that my expectations for the internship initially were exceeded by the actual role I have in the organization. I expected the role to be somewhat similar to my previous internship. I thought I would be researching on the computer for ten weeks with some interaction with the other interns and few meetings. I was wrong, and I am so glad I was wrong. My role has included communicating information to the other interns as well as their intern managers, setting up several of the intern events, planning group bonding activities, leading a “Professional Development Series” for the interns, taking the lead on an updated employee handbook, and more. These aspects of my role have taught me how to create fun and informative presentations on sometimes dry topics, identifying key components of employee handbooks, research, and properly communicating to organization employees of all levels.

These are a couple of handmade bowls from an Americares Airlift Benefit from approximately 5 years ago. It’s unclear what country they are from, but they are believed to be from El Salvador.

Another skill I will take away from my experience at Americares is the newfound knowledge I have of the nonprofit world. Although I am definitely not an expert in nonprofits having only been exposed to one, I find that my perceptions of nonprofit organizations has both changed and been enhanced through working at Americares. For example, in the case of Americares, I did not know how important it is to be strategically focused in particular areas. We tend to think of nonprofits as focusing on a very broad topic, such as health, when in reality they must narrow down those focuses to be as effective and efficient as possible. An organization may work in the health sector with a focus on access to medicine because they don’t want to diminish the quality of care by having too wide of a scope of interest. This knowledge of how nonprofits function, acquired through my own experiences as well as research, will make me better equipped in future jobs to comprehend the situations and circumstances that employees I will be working with might have. For that, I have Americares to thank.

These flags were old marketing materials from Americares, now out of date after Americares updated their logo in 2012. Our cubicle has more of these flags placed everywhere!

Most importantly, my role at Americares has allowed me to learn a lot about myself in the workplace. In the initial stages of working on the employee handbook, I found myself analyzing policies from the old handbook and trying to come up with solutions or ways to better approach a given workplace situation. I had a desire and a drive to come up with something new and innovative for the organization, to propel them forward and create a lasting impact. Americares has given me the opportunity to learn more about my problem-solving nature and my desire to create something new and fun, out of the ordinary. Although my suggestions have yet to stick or have turned out to be more complicated than anticipated, I know that someday soon, an idea will stick and my workplace and I will be the beneficiary.