The More You Know

Another busy week has passed.

This weekend, I went to Howth, a coastal suburb in the North of Dublin. This is definitely one of my favorite places that I have visited; the views from the summit and the pier were really incredible. As someone who likes the water, it has been great to be in a city with such easy access to it. After months of being landlocked in Pittsburgh, it’s nice to be let out!

As far as my internship, I have been getting more efficient at completing objectives as I get more familiar with my position. It is a relief to feel as if I have been meeting, and hopefully exceeding, my supervisor’s expectations of me.

At our internship orientation, something the EUSA employees emphasized was that the vast majority of our internships, in one way or another, would teach us clear and effective communication. Whether this was communicating with clients, our coworkers, or our supervisor, EUSA promised that we would meet some sort of communication challenge or exercise that would strengthen this skill. Halfway through my internship, I am confident that this is the skill I have developed the farthest.

For example, some days I help my supervisor craft emails to respond to questions or comments from her constituents, party members, corporations, and organizations. While this is not an example of me exercising my communication skills, because my supervisor dictates what to write, this task does have me learning a great deal about communication. I have seen my supervisor painstakingly consider the correct wording for correspondence. I have also how attentive she is to her correspondences in general. Whenever the Council tells her that an issue she has brought up from a constituent has been logged, she always has me send an email thanking them. She says that she can tell they appreciate this because they always get back to her faster on issues when she does this; she reminds me that people like to be acknowledged for their work.

During my internship, I also make a good amount of phone calls. These calls don’t necessarily have any pattern. Sometimes I call an organization to answer a question for a constituent. More recently I called a beehive company concerning a pending addition to a local park. During high school, I developed some anxiety surrounding phone calls when I phone banked with a local campaign; people tend to respond very harshly to political phone calls asking for votes. This internship has helped me overcome this anxiety through frequent exposure; obviously, those answering the phones for local community groups and companies are not going to respond angerly, but knowing that and experiencing it are different. In sum, this internship has made me a much better communicator over the phone, which is not only relevant to my professional life, but my personal life as well.

While it may seem small, I have greatly strengthened my Microsoft Outlook skills. While I have used Outlook before for my emails, I did not use the full range of features like my supervisor does before entering this program. This led to me lagging behind her directions at first when she would dictate emails to me; for example, I have never even touched the Outlook Calendar, so navigating it to insert her many political commitments was a bit difficult at first. However, with practice, like anything, I learned. Now, when I redo my resume, I can write “proficient in the Microsoft Outlook suite” with much more confidence.

Having been in Dublin a month now, I’ve begun to get used to the culture of the city and the island at large. Something that I had difficulty with at first was the range of questions people would ask me; some questions were so direct that I was unprepared to answer them. For example, several people I had just recently met, like my supervisor and her acquaintances, asked me very early on how I was funding my enrollment in this program. Back home, questions concerning money are deemed taboo, so I was surprised by this at first. However, now that I understand the Irish culture a little bit better, I am not shaken by questions I deem personal. Whereas before I felt that explaining the answers to certain questions was oversharing, I now understand that it is more the culture here to ask direct questions and give direct answers.

With four weeks to go, the end is near! I hope that I can accomplish everything I want to with my internship in that time, and still find time to see what I have yet to in Dublin.

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