The halfway point! I feel like it was just last week when I sat down to write my first reflection post for DukeEngage, and now, in seemingly the blink of an eye, I am checking back in to report on the first half of my DukeEngage experience. Four weeks ago, the prospect of a summer in Peru still weighed heavily on my mind. I imagined myself boarding a plane to Cusco, excitedly preparing myself to begin a once in a lifetime experience, immersing myself in a new culture, exponentially growing, and hopefully making an impact along the way. Now, sitting at my desk at home writing my second blog post, that seems like a dream more than a reality that once existed. However, my remote DukeEngage independent project is similar in many ways. I feel like I’ve been exponentially learning and growing, immersing myself in a new (work!) culture, and working on a project related to a pandemic that is hopefully once in a lifetime. So, I guess these four weeks might not have been so different from Cusco after all…
Over these past four weeks, I’ve made encouraging progress on my project as the Social Impact Intern at MPOWER. Thanks to the help of my supervisor and co-workers, I’ve interviewed 12 international students from 8 different countries, created and sent out a survey in a newsletter to 100,000+ students, and started to develop a final social impact report that will be hopefully published at the end of my project. Apart from the quantitative landmarks, I’ve also learned so much about communicating in the workplace, using Slack, and speaking with different departments like Credit, Servicing, and Digital Products. It’s been a great, busy, and informative four weeks.
Something that I expected after initially planning out my project with my supervisor was that I was going to do a couple of presentations on my research findings to different members within the company throughout my project. Presentations are not my strong suit, so I was interested to see how my presentational skills might improve throughout this internship. However, this week we decided that the final deliverable will instead be a publishable social impact report. The chance to understand and work with graphic design actually really excites me – this is a great example of something I would not have exposure to without this opportunity.
I want to end this post by discussing a topic that was brought up by one of my peers in our weekly DukeEngage Reflection sessions. I don’t remember how this topic was initiated, but one of my group members started talking about the role of an intern. Being an intern can be nerve wracking and exciting, but it can also be frustrating at times. She explained that interns often want to do and change so much to the point that they set themselves up for disappointment when their internship ends, and they have not made huge changes or completed momentous projects. I didn’t realize that I needed to hear that, but I did. Through my student interviews and detailed look at survey data, I’ve discovered how much help some international students need at this time. My heart goes out to every one of them, but MPOWER, and myself, cannot realistically meet all of their far-reaching needs. When my peer spoke about the limitations of an intern, I realized that it is OK if I don’t accomplish this huge, world changing project in 8 weeks. The continual progress that I’m making everyday is great, and I look forward to keep working towards a final, published social impact report in four weeks!