Having completed my internship and had some time to think over all of my experiences I know that my time at the International Rescue Committee has greatly influenced my career goals and prepared me for a field that I could likely end up in. Although working in Refugee Resettlement is not expressly considered social work in a lot of ways it resembles the field. One aspect of the internship I was not prepared for was feeling emotionally drained. Seeing up to three clients a day was great because I got to meet and learn about new people and a commonly misunderstood population, but the meetings were not without their hard conversations and problems.
Throughout my time at the IRC I was able to see at least five of the clients I worked with achieve employment, but the jobs they were got were not ones that I was particularly happy to see them being funneled into. Most clients would apply to be housekeepers, work in restaurants, or seek other entry level jobs. Although clients would be enthused most of the time they got employment, it was bittersweet knowing the ladder they would have to climb to obtain higher caliber positions. Other clients had a much more realistic picture of the job market after searching for employment. Many expressed frustration and remorse having been given a overly optimistic view of the American job market in the country they left. For many arriving in the U.S. was a rude awakening and some stated they were better off where they came from.
Even though I only worked in the office for three months I still felt emotionally drained and discouraged leaving the office throughout my time. Although that is the “nature” of the work, I found myself doubting the prospect of continuing work in the field of social work or non-profits because of the sheer heaviness of the work that is done. Now, having had the chance to reflect on my internship I don’t feel as disheartened. My internship provided me with one of the most meaningful experiences in my life thus far, but additionally reminded me that society is flawed and problems can’t be fixed overnight. Though I now see Refugee Resettlement in the U.S. as a flawed process, it is better to reflect on these issues and deal with the emotional aspects than cut yourself off. These heavy subjects demand attention and hopefully that attention can lead to concrete improvements in the system.