Throughout my two months I have learned so much about myself and has made me question a lot about my future career plans. Interning for Health Bridges International has made me realize that studying international studies was the right choice for me. Although I still want to pursue a career in public health, after this summer I am considering social work as well. This past month I decided that instead of going directly into a masters in public health program, I will wait and work for a few years.
My internship also exposed me the importance of collaboration in the public health and social work fields. Both the private and public sectors also have to collaborate in order to have the biggest impact. I knew building a system of collaboration between organizations would be difficult. But working here has exposed me to the different and sometimes conflicting goals, plans, schedules and egos that make collaboration difficult.
In the past two or three years I became interested in program evaluation. I always had this preconceived idea that organizations need to be evaluated to measure what results if any they have achieved. If they haven’t achieved results it must be because their programs could be done differently. I realized during my internship that a program (for example, a program working with street youth) may not achieve results not because it’s bad but because the target population is so hard to work with. But just because you don’t achieve results doesn’t mean you should do something else, it just means you have to keep on trying and never give up on these kids, because if not you then who? Because the rest of society has. Instead of measuring short term results I am realizing the importance of long term evaluations.
My experience here has also made me question what type of job I want to do. Do I want a job where I am constantly up and moving, meeting with people, scheduling meetings? I thought that I wanted a job in the field but I didn’t realize how hard travel time and working at home would be. This internship has not changed my mind. I still do not I want a desk job, but I now see the downsides of fieldwork.
It is always good to experience different work environments, bosses, fields etc. Not only are internships good for gaining new knowledge and skills, but they are a great way to see what you do and don’t want in a job.