Working in an NGO and in Europe has been a different world for me. These are some the critical reflection of an Ecuadorian master student:
A new world of NGOs:
I had previous work experience in the private sector, but NGOs was a completely new world for me. We had an easy start, during the first week we learnt about the organization, some of the staff, the building and more. But with such a big structure, that I was not expecting, I am still always learning something new and interesting every week. What called my attention was the amount of people that can compromise to work together for the same objective: defeating poverty.
A diverse environment:
A diverse environment is important to be more open and learn, that is what I have found at Oxfam. Starting with the members of the academy, most of us come from different parts of the world: from Ecuador to Indonesia to Italy to Slovakia and more. But also, the staff is quite diverse. You find people with different origins and backgrounds. Finding so diverse group of collaborators working for the same objective is quite inspiring.
The important role of the intern:
One of the most important things I recognize is the role that the intern have in the organization. Since the first days interns get involved in the activities. First, although the general objectives of the internship are defined, interns are involved in shaping the objectives, including their personal and professional interests. Second, interns can make a direct and substantia contribution to the organization and to the objective of the organization. They are usually involved in projects and activities of real importance and impact in the organization.
Interns are expected to be proactive and to take the initiative, but appropriate support is always provided. Mentors are available to help when needed with things related to work, and also with other help the intern may need. Beyond that, the academy staff is always present to give support and to ensure that everything is going well. But most importantly, most of the stall would always be willing to help you.
You may not have your own desk in the building, but you are able to work wherever you are. The nature of the organization, and of the sector in general, requires flexibility. Whether you work in an office, in any other part of the building, from home, or from another country, the most important thing is that you have the facility to do your work wherever you are. And even though it may poses some challenges, learning to work in this way is valuable to be more efficient. Further, flexibility is important for an intern when academic activities goes along with the internship.
There may be many critiques on the sector, and many drawbacks may in fact exist, but what I recognize in Oxfam is the leading role on implementing improvements. I have learn on some of the different internal and external project and commitments that Oxfam is working on to improve its operations and the sector as well.