Dear Future Intern:
It was not too long ago that I was in your place. Months have passed like minutes and I can vividly recall feeling a tornado of emotions spinning within me. I was excited about the new journey that I was about to embark on but my excitement was swirling with nerves of the unknown, doubts about my strength, and sadness of all I was leaving behind. I’m sure you too are experiencing your own mixture of chaos within.
As you know, this chaos will subside and you will have your own truly incredible internship. One that is indescribable and uniquely yours to learn from. For me, there were times where I felt fulfilled, balanced, and inspired. I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. There were also moments of complete contrast, where I felt extremely uncomfortable, stressed, and challenged. During these moments, there were times I deeply craved the comfort of my home. So, like always in life, there will be ups and downs but be present in these moments, as those are the ones where the most learning will occur.
With that, my first word of advice is to remind yourself of your strength. You are here because you are capable, so use the strength that has brought you here today to face any challenges that arise while you are overseas.
Secondly, be reflective. This is your chance to disconnect from your world here in Canada. Use this as an opportunity to be in touch with what you are doing, feeling, and experiencing. Take time and give yourself space. Write, journal, make art. Do whatever you need to document and reflect on this experience.
Share. Find someone to talk to about your plethora of experiences. Luckily, I was living with Emily, a fellow CAPI intern and we would debrief nearly every night. This helped me process what I was seeing in the township, gain perspective on privilege and power, and most importantly, helped me make sense of this new world I was living in. Having someone to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences with will help you feel understood which will ease the intensity of this process.
Lastly, try not to have expectations for yourself or for your internship. This word of advice was given to me by my supervisor at Ukulapha and I found it to be a breath of fresh air in that initial internal chaos. You can gather information about your placement but nothing will truly prepare for what is to come.
So, don’t have expectations about what you are going to do; be open-minded and let things fall into place. Your work might look different than you thought, but that is okay. Let go of your expectations and let go of the pressures you put on yourself with those expectations.
This internship will have an incredible impact on you, but try not to have expectations of how. I know that is probably difficult to do, it was for me, but this experience will unfold the way that it is meant to for you. We are each our own beings and what impacts you will be different from another.
So, dear future intern, I am overwhelmingly excited for you! You are about to embark on an incredible journey of your own and embrace it with all that you can!