As I read my latest internship blog post to prepare for this post, I was shocked to learn that so much had happened in three weeks! In last post, it had been a week since I arrived in Paris and now, it’s been a month since I’ve started my internship here. I have so much to share so let’s jump right into the business without further due…
I have categorized the work I have done in the past month into a few groups.
1. Project/Programme support: I have drafted a concept note for a conference that will take place in July and continued to revise the programme for another conference in June that I mentioned in the last post. I have participated in a Skype call meeting with local organization staff and exchanged emails to receive their feedback and revise the concept note and the programme.
2. Reviewing of all sorts!: A significant portion of the tasks that my supervisor asked me to do was to “review XYZ and revise” or “review and provide comments”. So I had many opportunities to provide feedback on various types of colleague’s works, such as consultative meeting programme draft, table of contents draft for a publication, our programme’s promotion video, etc. etc. Of course, you will not be merely reading a draft and adding comments. Providing feedback requires a lot of research so it entailed a lot of sifting through publications and journal articles.
3. Visibility: I had a chance to contribute to increasing the visibility of the works that our team did by writing press release and contributing to implementation reports and presentations.
4. Evaluation: My supervisor suggested that I carry out a mini project on my own during my internship to have something I can add to my portfolio. So I have been thinking about what is most needed in the domain of media and information literacy (MIL) and concluded that it needs more concrete data and reports that can demonstrate the efficacy (or lack thereof) of the initiatives that have taken place so far. After consulting my supervisor, I have decided to conduct an evaluation of a MIL project that has taken place in a country in Sub-Saharan Africa.
And the main takeaways from doing the above:
1. Being independent and Taking Initiative: Being Independent and Taking Initiative: As we all very well know from our real world experiences, there is no hand-holding in the real world! But one year at IEDP with so many caring faculty and staff members who go above and beyond to help us, we sometimes forget. But internship means back to the reality!
My supervisor had to go on a mission for the entire week two of my internship so it was really important that I take initiatives and work independently. Yes, my supervisor did communicate with me diligently even while away and made sure that I always had something to do. Even so, being all by yourself (on the second week of your internship!) can make you feel like a lost boat in the Pacific Ocean.
To make the most out of this week, I made sure to constantly be in touch with my supervisor over email to provide update on the progress and ask for feedback. Also, it was a great opportunity for me to get head-started with my evaluation project. I browsed the resources we have and identified rooms for contribution.
Even when my supervisor returned, independence mattered a lot because our supervisors are pulled in all directions, often times jumping from one meeting to another. This happened during one of the meetings our team had with a representative from a local organization with whom we have been collaborating for the MIL for PVE workshop. As my supervisor walked out to attend another meeting, he told us to continue on with the meeting as I have all the information that the local organization need to prepare on their ends. I couldn’t quite believe what was happening – me? In charge of the meeting? It was definitely an overwhelming yet an exciting experience. I fortunately was able to answer all the questions our partner had about the contents of the workshop and some logistics as well. Doing internship sometimes puts you in a spot with a lot of responsibilities and pressure but I think it could be a great opportunity for us to rise up and above!
2. Flexibility, I can’t emphasize more: It applies to every aspect of work really but I want to talk about flexibility especially in terms of my evaluation project. There are a number of different ways to do evaluation, and looking at the data we have and considering the type of insights I would like to provide, I settled on a certain type of evaluation. However, it turned out that logistically, I would not be able to do the type of evaluation I wanted to. That meant settling for a less ideal option. It will not be the very perfect evaluation that I have learned about in Dr. Thapa’s class but sometimes, we should strive to make the most out of what we can do and what we can have. The idea of “doing the best with what you have” is nothing new but now that I have learned about all these skills, tools and what a perfect case scenario would look like in theory during my first year at IEDP, it might have hit me a bit harder. But I have figured out ways to move forward and I shall do the best with what I have!
3. Quick turnarounds so stay on top of it!: Some mornings, within a few minutes of arriving in the office, my supervisor asked me to edit a report draft in an hour. Sometimes the task would be given towards the end of the day and would be ideally submitted by the morning next day. Not that my supervisor and colleagues are trying to be mean to me but sometimes, that’s just the way work happens. There will be times when we have to work under time crunch! Thankfully, even under the pressing circumstances, my supervisor has been modulating the work load and its complexity to make sure that it’s not unrealistic of a demand. Our team finds a way to divide it up amongst ourselves so it becomes more manageable for each of us. Still, it does mean that we have to super super super focus for one to two hours to get it all done. One might think assignments and papers deadlines are overwhelming in school but I really think it can be much crazier at work at times so be ready for it!
A lot to say about work for sure! But our internship is much more than that 🙂 And that leads to…
Not Work but Kind of Work…?
All the things that more or less happened within the realm of my organization but was not officially work!
I had a coffee chat with my supervisor once he got back from a week-long mission, and I highly recommend that others do this if possible! It was a great opportunity to get to know my supervisor outside the work, hearing about the background experiences, insights about the media and information literacy, opinions on development work in general, etc. etc. It was also a great chance for me to let my supervisor know what I want to get out of this internship and how I envision my career trajectory after grad school. Super helpful advices and tips followed so I can confidently say it was one of the best experiences in Paris!
Our organization had really cool cultural heritage events! A picture is worth a thousand words so here they are…
With couple long weekends in between, many of my colleagues traveled to their homes or to other cities to see their friends so we haven’t really got together outside the work, other than happy hour get-togethers post-work. But we did have a birthday party with lots of great Moroccan food served!
It is actually quite cold in Paris still. I have determined to send my winter clothes back to the States so I don’t have to carry them around with me as I travel afterwards but here they are, still with me. I actually wore one of the winter cardis this morning as it was 8 degrees Celsius!
However, we were lucky and had a few weekends with beautiful weather! I was able to go back to Jardin du Luxembourg where I visited in winter the last time I came to Paris. It was so much more beautiful and enjoyable in warm sunlight! Then on the hottest day we’ve had thus far this year, I headed to Canal Saint-Martin located in the northeastern part of the city. It apparently is a popular picnic spot more for local Parisiens than tourists (which is sort of rare in Paris!) I was able to soak up the sun and just read, read and read by the canal. Such a relaxing experience!
But above all, my favorite part of Paris is its myriad of museums! Most museums are free for the European residents under the age of 26. I unfortunately do not have titre de séjour so I technically do not qualify but some museums are free for everyone under the age of 26, so never hurts to try out! (And even if it’s just for the European residents, they usually have discounts for ya!) I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Musée de Marie Curie where I was able to see Marie Curie’s lab and the garden she has planned out herself behind her lab. Musée des archives nationales was a great place to connect back to my love for rare books and manuscripts. Also, they were all located in very different parts of the city from where I live so it was also a great way to see different neighborhoods!
Just Outside Paris
Some weekends, I ventured out a bit farther and went to different cities in northern France that are just few hours away from Paris by train. Lille, a norther most major city in France just beside the border with Belgium, had its quaint charm. Unlike most people, I have always liked the greyish vibe of northern France more than the bright sunlight of southern France so Lille was definitely my cup of tea. The big fortress located just outside the old city was really calming to walk around.
Then last weekend, I headed off to the famous Mont-Saint-Michel and St. Malo, a coastal city in Bretagne that is only an hour away from Mont-Saint-Michel. Yes, this is why the second blog post was not uploaded this weekend but is being uploaded now! I was away for this long weekend to make the most out of it by exploring Bretagne. Last time I was in France, I managed to visit Normandy but never had time for Bretagne and I was so sad about that! How glad I was to come back and see the charms of Bretagne. I personally liked the unrealistically clean and refreshing coast of St. Malo more than Mont-Saint-Michel. But I do have to say, Mont-Saint-Michel indeed was an experience worth the trip!
Something that makes me “me”
Of course, making the most out of your internship site and your internship matters but for those who have been living abroad, hopping from one city to another, it is important to establish a routine that provides you some type of consistency. I learned from my experience that it is actually quite important for me!
One of the things I try to do regardless of where I go is working out. Fortunately, I live right by the Seine river and have been really enjoying running along the river. Though going to college in the States made it trickier, watching soccer is another thing that I have done since high school so here I was, at a sports bar to watch the final game of the UEFA Champions League! (I’d rather not discuss the result of that match but yeah… great job to both teams)
Last weekend, I was even able to watch a Korean movie in a movie theatre in Paris, all thanks to this movie winning Palme d’Or at Festival de Cannes this year. Watching movie has been one of my favorite pastime since college so it was great to go back to a movie theatre, even better with a Korean movie!
Talking about my routine that sticks with me regardless of where I go, it’s time for me to wrap up this post and watch some Youtube videos before going to bed, and get ready for another day of internship in Paris!