31 Jul A Job Unlike Any I've Ever Had
Vimbai Mufunde from the University of Essex shares her experiences from her Madrid summer internship working in the non-profit industry as one of Absolute's Intern Heroes
This internship is nothing like any other job I've had before. The atmosphere is super relaxed, calm and supportive. I've swapped an office for workshops, formal office wear for summer dresses, proper shoes for chanclas and I'm loving every moment of it.
For the month of July I have been working in an Occupational Centre in Madrid with a non-profit that supports adults with learning disabilities. At first, I had no idea what to expect, but the more time I spend here, the more I fall in love with my job. My colleagues never fail to tell me how much they love their work. Yes, they've had jobs that earned them more money in the past, but the large consensus is that they're all happy to be doing something where they enjoy what they do and love the company of those they work with. All of which is evident in their work. The Occupational Centre provides many opportunities for clients that they did not have in the past. They provide them with the opportunity to learn skills that we all all learned at school, but they were not able to due to the perception of people with learning disabilities 20-30 years ago.
The key thing I've learned in my internship is the importance of patience. When working with people that have different abilities from you, it is imperative to treat them with respect and kindness at all times. My company has been an absolute reflection of that. There are different workshops for different skills from carpentry, to gardening, to ceramic making. There are also added classes to improve essential skills like reading, writing, counting, pronunciation, being independent (grocery shopping, understanding time, using public transport, cooking, cleaning, living on your own and developing relationships) all of which have had an incredible impact on the clients and their confidence and growth as adults. Whilst undertaking my internship I was able to witness, take part and lead some of these sessions and seeing the glow on their faces when they've successfully completed a task has provided a sense of pride I've never felt before.
My favourite part of my internship is hearing the stories of progress that the clients have had since they arrived at the Occupational Centre to now. It is a true reflection of the fantastic work the company is doing.
This internship has confirmed my want to work with a Non-profit Organisation in the future. I want to make a difference in someone's life, see them grow and develop their abilities and gain independence and self-confidence.
I believe I can apply what I've learned from this internship to my career as I aim to work within the International Development field with charities and other non-profit organisations to make long-lasting, sustainable changes in peoples' lives. The month in Madrid has improved my Spanish-speaking abilities tremendously and whilst I still make mistakes, I have learned how important it is to learn another language in order to communicate with a large audience. No matter what they say, the whole world does not speak English. Also networking with my fellow interns will help to open doors in so many different countries.
My internship has not been a 09:00-17:00, office job behind a desk, with spreadsheets and answering emails - I haven't been that type of professional. Nevertheless, I have been a professional that works closely with both colleagues and clients laughing, joking and learning every step along this journey, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
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