In 2008, you participated in an internship with the Women’s Group of Madi in Nepal. Can you explain what the transition from Globalization and International Development student at the University of Ottawa to SFD intern was like?
I think it’s a transition in terms of personal accountability, which arises from the chance to get involved. As university students, we are encouraged to discuss various topics and to take a stand. We analyze concepts and their application from a public policy or development project perspective. An internship inevitably involves taking initiatives and putting opinions into action. In turn, this encourages us to observe the impact of these initiatives in a particular context and understand them. The element that marked my transition from International Development student to SFD program intern was this question of accountability and the realization that the implementation of concepts and actions that involve certain opinions inevitably require a review and an adaptation based on what’s found in the field. It is important to listen and remember the reason for our actions.
Many students cite internships as life-changing experiences. Can you explain how your own internship affected your life?
I felt a sense of accomplishment, because I stepped out of my comfort zone and pushed my limits. These realizations have changed how I see myself and the environment in which I evolve. I was able to better perceive the scope of my actions and the complexity of the environment in which I was working. As a result, I have emerged from this experience with pride, but also with great humility.
What did you do when you first returned to Canada following your internship? (this question is meant to refer to what you did following the internship prior to working as a coordinator/admin assistant at the University of Ottawa – i.e. did you finish your degree in Globalization & International Development, did you continue working overseas, etc.)
When I returned from Nepal, I resumed my Masters in International Development. I still had courses to take and my thesis to write. This is what I set out to do once back in Canada.
You currently work as a SFD coordinator for the faculty of social sciences at the University of Ottawa. Do you think that your experience as an intern helped set you out as a unique candidate during the application phase? Can you tell us a about your day-to-day work with the faculty?
As a SFD program coordinator at the University of Ottawa, I coordinate the activities for this project, which include, for instance, communication with the partner and recruitment. I’m basically the liaison between the various bodies at the University, the partner and AUCC.
I think that inevitably my internship in Nepal helped me gain a better understanding of the challenges that may arise during an internship in a developing country, which enhances my relationships with participating students and the partner. I also learned how to fulfill narrative and financial reporting requirements, which is certainly an asset.
Lastly, as an alumnus of the program, what advice would you give to other students currently thinking about taking part in their first overseas development experience?
I would recommend that they inquire about the environment in which they will be working and the issue their internship will cover. Preparation is often set aside because we are concerned about many other things before departure, such as studying for exams, seeing family and friends and taking care of the paperwork. Pre-departure training is very relevant here, since it is an excuse to take a break from our life, which can often move at a frantic pace, and address precisely these preparation issues vital to getting a sense of what one is doing! Feeling overwhelmed is completely normal!