Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, New Haven, CT
This summer, I worked as a volunteer coordination intern at the nonprofit organization Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services in New Haven. Since the organization relies heavily on help from volunteers and interns, my main role was to manage roughly 300 volunteers. I worked with my supervisor to go through résumés, applications, availability and background checks in order to assign volunteers to their matching roles. Due to the large number of volunteers whom we need to be in charge of and provide guidance for, our work needed to be very detail-oriented. I also helped out in other departments, such as the education or employment departments, where we worked with clients to learn English or provided career advice.
During World Refugee Day, I helped set up the festival by arranging performances, transportation and food supplies. Since the organization can be understaffed from time to time, other departments would ask for my help, and I found it very rewarding being able to participate in multiple ways. I also worked on rewriting and reorganizing the organization’s protocol pamphlet as well as the volunteer/intern guide. One co-worker from another office needed to take a leave and I covered her work for several weeks. Due to the high demand of Ukrainian speakers to assist our clients coming from Ukraine, we spent a lot of time going over our volunteer database, reaching out, and recruiting interpreters to join our organization. We also held activities with Choate and Middlebury by maintaining a close bond with the two schools as well as welcoming their groups of volunteers each summer.
Since we were short-staffed, I worked pretty independently and took care of many things just like a full-time employee. I would communicate with my supervisor if I encountered any problems I couldn’t solve myself, but generally I would finish my work on my own. My internship at the Refugee Center in New Haven greatly enabled me to gain a deeper understanding of how nonprofit organizations work systematically to provide assistance to immigrants and refugees in my state. I have learned many details in terms of the work ethics as well as the subtlety of language usage to ensure our clients and their cultures are well respected and welcomed by us. My internship also allowed me to connect with many others who share the same passion with me in the field of assisting refugees and immigrants. They not only serve as my colleagues but also my inspirations to my future career. I also learned a lot from my clients, who were able to persist in many harsh circumstances and eventually thrive in a new country. Their determination and good virtues are my motivations to work even harder so that their transition can become smoother in this new city. I would like to thank the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for providing me with this opportunity this summer.