Final Progress Report
In partial fulfilment of my undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice at Nova Southeastern University, I completed an internship with Representative Dotie Joseph. The general purpose of completing internships is to allow students to gain experiential learning since it is a form of ‘hands-on learning.’ This means that students can learn skills and obtain practical experience that cannot often occur in a traditional classroom. As my internship comes to a close, this final progress report will summarize, critically reflect, and analyse my experiences at the internship.
Summary of Internship
I had the opportunity to complete an internship with Representative Dotie Joseph, representing District 108 in North Miami, Florida. As a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the early part of my internship was completed remotely to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved. Once the restrictions were lifted in the area, I completed the remainder of my internship at Rep. Joseph’s district office in North Miami. For the duration of my internship, I worked five days a week (Monday through Friday) for at least three hours each day.
Supporting Rep. Joseph’s Assistant
During the first half of the internship, I completed various tasks, including compiling briefings for legislative bills and resolutions and preparing materials for Rep. Joseph’s review prior to her presenting them at committee or in sessions. These briefings allowed Rep. Joseph to quickly review the relevant bills, allowing her to identify areas of concern and address those, and ask questions during sessions. Additionally, I was responsible for researching legislative bills introduced by other Representatives that Rep. Joseph might want to co-sponsor or prime co-sponsor. Finally, I provided feedback from her constituents regarding specific bills so that Rep. Joseph understood where her constituents stood on the issues raised on a particular bill.
My primary job description changed in late February when I became a policy intern. Specifically, I worked directly and in support of Rep. Joseph’s district secretary. In this position, I focused on addressing constituents’ needs and concerns. In addition, given that I am fluent in Haitian-Creole and the district secretary is not, I facilitated communication between the Creole-speaking constituents and the district secretary. This ensured that no important details got lost in translation while also ensuring that the needs and concerns raised by Haitian-Creole-speaking constituents were appropriately addressed.
I was also responsible for similar translation and interpretation tasks. For example, I translated some of their social media posts, announcements, and documents. This ensured that all media activities and announcements were easily accessible to the constituents who speak Haitian-Creole and are not necessarily fluent in English. Although this was a daunting task to ensure accuracy, I was proud of myself, knowing that this task helps keep a broader proportion of the population informed. To that end, facilitating as a point of communication has opened my eyes to pursuing a career as an advocate or victim advocate. These experiences reassured me that I am in the right field and am on my mission to serve and give back to the community.
Reflection and Analysis
Overall, the internship experience with Rep. Joseph was very valuable and beneficial.
This is primarily because it provided me with a range of theoretical and practical examples of how a job might be accomplished. Furthermore, this internship provided me with a good balance of academic student experiences (such as learning in a classroom like a student) and rewarding real-life work experiences that involved completing the many professional undertakings associated with this job. Finally, as will be explored subsequently, experiences gained during the internship helped me gain valuable skills necessary for my future goal of becoming a community advocate.
Working with Rep. Joseph’s district secretary allowed me to actively improve and refine my communication skills and my ability to complete oral and written communications professionally. I was also able to further practice my Haitian-Creole translation and interpretation skills by ensuring the translations were completed accurately and in a way that both parties could easily understand. Practicing these skills allowed me to use different verbal and non-verbal skills that should further help my work performance moving forward.
Second, this internship helped me further develop and improve essentially interpersonal skills necessary to prosper in professional work environments. The office environment provided me with a chance to learn how to establish and maintain a conducive working environment by developing interpersonal skills. Specifically, I learned that it is critical to establish and sustain positive relationships and to be the type of person that team members want to work with daily. In addition, I developed a deeper understanding that many employers value individuals who can perceive and acknowledge the value and worth of differing perspectives. Thus, it has become clear that interpersonal skills are particularly important since most employers – such as Rep. Joseph – desire individuals who can accurately discern the wants, concerns, needs, and requirements of many other people.
Furthermore, the internship provided me with an opportunity to improve my time management skills. Rep. Joseph’s office is usually one that is very busy with many different tasks on the go simultaneously, most with very important deadlines that needed to be met. As an intern, I had to put together briefings for bills, resolutions, among other things, for Rep. Joseph to review prior to her presenting them at sessions. It was imperative for me to ensure that Rep. Joseph had these documents on time so she could have sufficient time to review them. I had to make sure that I was on top of things and properly prioritized which tasks to complete. Similarly, I learned that it is important to always organize one’s time to produce the desired results. This is because most employers want to know that their employees are able to be responsible and effectively produce results, sometimes on a short timeframe and with many tasks on the go simultaneously. Therefore, employers want to make sure their employees can prioritize their responsibilities and recognize when it is appropriate to focus on one particular project or multitask on multiple.
Serving as one of the main Haitian-Creole translators and interpreters was an incredibly rewarding experience. First, it helped me develop cross-cultural interpersonal abilities and multicultural awareness that I likely would not have developed elsewhere. I learned that connecting with people from diverse cultures can be a somewhat daunting and challenging task, especially with the language barrier. However, this challenge made it all the more rewarding for me. After all, cross-cultural bridges are built every day, often by people who have lived in foreign countries. Communicating with and getting to know people from diverse backgrounds was highly rewarding to me, as it broadened my horizons. Also, it gave me a deeper awareness and appreciation of the obstacles faced by those from diverse cultures in Miami. Finally, these experiences helped me understand that knowing which subjects and conversations are appropriate in professional work environments is a valuable trait. This will help you network and form solid professional contacts globally.
Adaptability and Respect
Finally, the internship granted me the chance to learn about the value of adaptability and respect in the workplace. My relationship with Rep. Joseph and her staff helped me to recognize that employers, understandably, prefer to hire professional employees with the potential to adjust to the changes and challenges that arise in the workplace. As I discovered through my internship, Rep. Joseph’s office is always busy, and things can sometimes happen quickly. Therefore, it is important to be flexible and prepared to adjust to any new challenges that present themselves. I think these are valuable traits in any occupation.
Similarly, understanding how to show respect to one’s employer, supervisor, and co-workers is an equally important professional skill. Specifically, the internship with Rep. Joseph helped me recognize that each employer has their own culture and standards for their workplace. Some standards might include being respectful to everyone in the workplace, including all visitors, and learning how to adeptly read these cues and adapt accordingly.
Suffice it to say that I found my internship over the past several months to be a highly rewarding and enriching experience. My internship relationship with Rep. Dotie Joseph and her staff at her district office in North Miami helped me further improve my communication skills, critical thinking, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills. In addition to the skills, the knowledge and experiential learning obtained through this internship will be influential in my quest to pursue a career as an advocate.