Internship Expectations

This week, we are writing on what surprised us most about Sarajevo.  Several things surprised me, but I suppose the one that has stood out the most this week is the completely different take on internships and what an intern is meant to do.  I was prepared to be worked to the bone.  I mean, I’m an intern.  Free labor.  The ideal participant in any non-profit organization.  The one who does the menial tasks that no one else wants to do.

However, so far the reality of my internship has been quite the opposite.  First, there was a mistake in communication and the organization for which I am interning thought I was starting a week later.  Then, the woman meant to be my supervisor had to make a last-minute trip and was gone for the week. After that, I went for the meeting with my stand-in supervisor.  She told me she only wanted me to come in for four hours a day.

I was shocked.  I insisted I could work more.  I could work eight hours a day, ten if they needed me.  She assured me that four was plenty because I’m here to learn, after all.  When would I have time to go out and explore Sarajevo if I was always working at the office?  I should make the most of my time and do as many things as I could!  So four hours a day would be plenty.

I was pleasantly surprised by this answer.  She genuinely wants me to learn, wants me to make the most of my time, wants me to get experiences.  She doesn’t even know me, really, but for her, interning is about learning, is about experiencing.  It’s refreshing, although I’m still not used to it.  I asked to adjust my Thursday hours so I could attend a panel discussion and she gave me the whole day off!  I’m still trying to determine how I feel about this much more relaxed system, but I have to say I can see some benefits.

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