Bumps in the Road

This past week has been full of new challenges.

On Monday, I started to feel sick, something I knew would happen eventually; after weeks of working, traveling, and doing as much as I can with my time in Dublin, I knew I would hit a wall at some point.

I quickly learned that being sick abroad is very different from being sick at home. After a few days under the weather, I knew I had to see a doctor. This led to problem number two: I don’t have a doctor in Ireland. This made getting an appointment difficult, or rather, not even possible. I learned this after contacting International SOS; instead of making an appointment, they directed me to a private emergency room. I had never been to an emergency room before, so the idea made me nervous. I’ve seen many dramatized versions of emergency rooms on television, and while I knew that was just Hollywood, I wondered how much truth there was to it. I was also worried that my ailment would not be “emergency worthy”; going into the emergency room for a sore throat and congestion seems unnecessary, but it was my only option. However, I found the emergency room I was in to be rather quiet. Other people were there for similarly benign injurie, (that is, compared to the life-threatening injuries I had assumed to overwhelm an emergency room), like a sprained ankle or a gash on the nose. Luckily, I got seen rather quickly.

Although I was feeling a bit under the weather earlier in the week, I still got a bit of time at my internship. Per our prompt for this week, during this time, I reflected on my leadership skills as an intern.   

Before this internship, I would describe my leadership style as a bit controlling. Sometimes, I get so stuck on an idea that I have a difficult time departing from it when others advise me to. If I think an idea is right, I’ll stick to it. Over time I have gotten better at listening to alternate options and not being so stubborn, but I will admit that I am still, to some degree, a “control freak”.

This internship certainly challenged that tendency.

The role of an intern naturally does not invite a lot of control. This is actually something I am very happy with. Always having to make decisions can be exhausting; it’s nice to be in a position where your main goal is to learn, listen, and fulfill objectives directed by someone else. Going into this internship, I didn’t think I would have many opportunities to practice leadership, and that’s because my view of “leadership” was one of control. This internship made me realize that leadership can look much different.

In my internship, leadership looks like taking initiative. My supervisor often talks about things she’d like to get done over the next few weeks to prepare for her impending campaign season. Some of these things include creating informational leaflets to disperse throughout her ward and establishing a filing system for her policy documents. Often, she is just brainstorming aloud, but during these conversations, I will ask her “would you like me to do some work on that” or “would it be helpful if I researched that”. The answer is typically yes. Much of the research I have done in my internship so far has been the result of this kind of initiative.  

Beyond learning leadership from my position, I have also learned a great deal about leadership from my supervisor. My supervisor has been a really great role model for me; she has shown me how a leader should act. Even though I’m only a college student with limited knowledge of Irish politics, she makes our work collaborative. For example, when we research current events, she’ll ask me questions on my findings and my opinions on them.

Learning the many ways leadership can take form was an important lesson for me. Whereas before I believed one could only be exercising leadership on a project if they were, themselves, the leader, I now understand that you can be a leader no matter what position you’re in. I’ve learned that a good leader just gets a job done, but a great leader brings others along with them.

With the few weeks we have left, my plans have shifted a bit. Whereas before I was trying to do as much as possible, now I must focus on getting healthy again. While this does make me upset, I am trying to make the best of my situation.   

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