As an Intake Specialist, I have learned the significance of intuition, active listening and the importance of an open mind. While these abilities may seem like obvious life skills, working for a social justice organization has provided a new lens through which they take on new meanings. Specifically, when working for an organization in which interpersonal relationships are the core of their efforts, every interaction becomes a test of these skills.
For instance, often when filing a complaint, the complainant relies on the intake specialist to transform their story from a disorganized array of events to a comprehensive narrative that illustrates the discrimination they have faced. This involves keen active listening, as often I have to read between the lines of a story to find the significance of certain events. Additionally, each complainant wants to feel as if they have been listened to by someone who cares about their situation and is attempting to help. This is where active listening becomes significantly different from simply hearing the complaint. It takes additional focus in order to maintain a connection with the complainant during the two hours spent with them.
In terms of intuition, I have surprisingly found that it plays a key role in the interview and analysis part of my job. Whether it is the instinct that there is more to a complaint than initially meets the eye, or simply that someone has had a bad day, I try to connect with each individual I work with.
When I am not on intake, I am tasked with writing dispositions that determine whether a case has probable cause or lack of probable cause. When writing a disposition, the most important skill one can have is an open mind. As a neutral organization, it is our job to analyze the facts and come to a just decision. This involves reading the initial complaint, along with the position statement and rebuttal. There have been many occasions where I have found myself biased towards the complainant upon initially reading their complaint. However, once I have read the other side of the story my decision has been swayed. In this sense, it is vital to keep an open mind and to be unbiased during the investigation, as one fact may change the entire story.
Not only have I learned the value of these significant life skills, but additionally, I have learned new legal jargon and court proceedings that have become the basis of my legal education. Working for the MCAD has provide me with a base level of information that I can add to my education tool box as I continue at Brandeis and beyond.
As I write this blog post I am afforded the opportunity to reflect on my experience during the internship thus far. I believe I have grown tremendously from my first few weeks at the beginning of the summer. I have become more confident in my abilities and more independent in my work. I have developed and honed my interpersonal skills and have learned the importance of patience. Most importantly, I have cultivated my passion for law and advocacy.
I have also been asked to help in the marketing of the Fair Housing and Civil Rights Conference that the MCAD hosts every year. I am excited to use my writing skills to assist in the promotion of this event.
If you want to learn more about the event you can look at their agenda page from last year.
Jessica Spierer ‘18