Going into the last week of my internship with ARCHI, I am trying to understand where the time went. It feels like just yesterday I was getting introduced to the team and catching up on meetings, and here I am presenting research, and finishing up my time with ARCHI.
Working at this unique collaborative, I have learned many technical skills on the job. I’ve learned how to use ArcGIS systems to create vaccination rate infographics. I’ve learned how to navigate Microsoft Outlook and send listserve emails to keep organizations up to date on events happening. I have further developed my research skills and my time management to keeping things organized.
In addition to technical skills, I have developed many interpersonal skills that will be valuable in my developing professional career. Having interviewed 9 case managers, I have improved my articulation and interviewing skills. I have also gained more confidence while introducing myself and presenting my research to organization leaders, as well as participating in weekly discussions. I have also continued to develop my curiosity and critical thinking while exploring research and other topics.
Not only has working with ARCHI allowed me to grow, it has also changed my leadership perspective. ARCHI is a small organization, with a team of less than 5, which means there is a very dynamic and collaborative effort. I worked under Kathryn Lawler, executive director of ARCHI, and she has inspired me to be a more empathetic and caring leader. Before working with with Kathryn, I don’t think I had a defined leadership style. I strived towards being a servant leader, but styles can change in different situations. Working with Kathryn, she has led with empathy, understanding, and a focus on the work done by organizations without being afraid to take charge and organize a meeting or consolidate information. Throughout this entire journey, she has helped me focus on the kind of work I want to do, and inspired me to lead with this collaborative approach that respects the work of others, as well as their time. This has challenged my preconceived notion of strict hierarchies, and I have appreciated never having felt as “the intern” who doesn’t know anything. I truly feel that we are all working towards a common goal, and my skills and limited knowledge are still accepted.
Being an intern is such as unique opportunity, because I have been able to put myself out there and dive into so many topics and people are willing to assist along the way. I am uniquely positioned to learn from all of my colleagues, and ask questions that I don’t normally have the opportunity to ask. I have also been able to explore certain issues that I didn’t think I was particularly interested. Because I did not apply for a position, and I opted for a “create your own” internship, a lot of my work comes up on a weekly bases. Although a little less conventional, it has given me the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, as well as adjust my work based on what I enjoy doing.
In my last week, I was able to travel to Atlanta to meet Kathryn in person, as well as see some of the community partner locations and create a visual for many of the projects we have worked on. I will be enjoying the rest of my meetings, and finishing up the projects on a bittersweet note.