At the official 6-week mark in my DukeEngage experience, the end is just beyond the horizon, but the difficulties of being here are also setting in. It’s already visible in the group here, people are pretty much ready to head home.
As invaluable as the experience at LSGM has been, much of the work has been exhausting—especially our canvassing trips under the unforgiving Miami sun. This Friday, the three LSGM interns walked to a mobile home park near our office to give the residents some important notices. About halfway through, it started pouring rain, so we took an Uber back to our dorm. Unfortunately, we hadn’t been patient enough, and the rain cleared just a few minutes after we left. After settling in at the dorm, having worked from 9:30 to 5:00, we learned that it had cleared up at the park and we knew we had to go back. The notices we were delivering were time-sensitive, so there was no way it could wait until Monday. We went back to finish our work, which meant that our workday went all the way to 7:30pm.
This is not the first time we’ve had to work very long hours, and with two weeks still to go I’m sure it won’t be our last. It can really take a lot out of you. I generally pride myself on being a hard worker and dedicating myself to work when I’m on the clock. As someone who is constantly on his phone (#millennial), I even try to stay off my phone as much as possible. Trying to keep that kind of attitude for a 10-hour day is completely draining, and I haven’t done the best job at it.
When it gets really tough to stay committed to the work, I try to remind myself of the value of the work we’re doing. Even the mundane days where we are putting together dozens of letters for park residents, I try to take time to remind myself of how helpful these letters will be to the recipients. When I’m drenched in sweat and mildly dehydrated while we’re canvassing in a mobile home park, I remind myself that we’re gathering information to improve the legal services that our organization can provide.
Having a higher purpose and mission is perhaps one of the greatest advantages of working for a non-profit. Six weeks in, although it is getting tiring, I’m not yet ready to be done with this work. This has been my first 9-to-5 job and it has been such an enlightening experience, I don’t want to call it quits just yet. Time is running out, and there’s a lot I still want to accomplish with DukeEngage and LSGM; I just have to stick it out and keep doing my best work, because it will all be worth it in the end.