Working for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination has opened my eyes to the extensive amount of work, dedication and passion that is necessary for a successful social justice organization to work. I am constantly inspired by the commitment that the attorneys demonstrate. Specifically, as an Intake Intern, I have seen first-hand the impact our organization has on each individual that walks through the door. Even if we simply take the time to do a consultation, we are able to foster a safe environment to allow people to express their frustration and sadness.
While the internship was a tremendous learning experience for me, I also made mutual contributions to the MCAD. As an Intake Intern, I conducted daily interviews that would otherwise be done by attorneys and investigators. By taking one responsibility off the investigator’s shoulders, they now have more time to devote to cases. Additionally, often the MCAD takes on more cases than they have employees to handle. I have had the unique opportunity to take on some of these cases on my own. Specifically, I have been able to finish the investigative process and write up the final dispositions. Taking on these extra responsibilities is mutually beneficial as it allows me to learn new skills first hand while lessening the organization’s workload.
When I first found out that I received this internship I looked forward to strengthening my interpersonal skills and making a direct impact. While I knew that my job would be emotionally taxing, I wish I would have been thoroughly prepared for the day to day interactions that have become emotionally exhausting. I am often faced with a crying individual that has been wrongfully terminated, or an angry one that feels taken advantage of. It is in those situations that I see the true purpose and need for social justice work.
Despite the challenges I have faced at my internship, I have extremely enjoyed the experience. Specifically, it has provided me with the unique opportunity to learn about the intersection between law and advocacy and see the inner workings of a social justice organization. After this summer, I have a clearer vision of my future career path and have made significant networking connections. For future interns at the MCAD or those considering a career in law, I would definitely highlight the importance of networking. With any career, it is vital to make close relationships as they can become the basis for future opportunities.
As this is my last blog post I think it would be useful to highlight to final process that cases go through at the MCAD. Once an investigator labels a case as probable cause or lack of probable cause, the complainant has the opportunity to mediate and attempt to come to a settlement agreement. If a settlement cannot be reached, the cases go to hearings to be decided by a higher court. These hearings are often conducted by the MCAD. Below is a picture of one of the hearing rooms.
If I had more time at the MCAD I would have loved to learn more about the legal department side of the organization. However, working on the enforcement side has allowed me the opportunity to see the justice process unfold.