Just recently, a few people have gotten in touch with me wanting to know more about what my placement with ARTICLE 19 is like. Some of these people I ignored because they were forgetful relatives. Others were people working for my university – I am spending my 3rd year of my 4 year undergraduate course on a work placement in London – calling to see if things were OK. This blog is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by anyone at the University and, as such, doesn’t have to be particularly informative about my placement, even so, I often direct people here to keep them updated on my activities.
I also have a rather tongue in cheek column specifically about my placement experiences in the student paper (bathimpact), because of the two-semester system, there has been a fairly long time since my last instalment.
As such, I haven’t written anything that really deals with my day-to-day experiences in quite a while which means I can’t direct those people getting in touch with me about my placement to this blog. So, here we go.
I won’t profess to be any authority on the work of my employer and so shan’t be going into any terrific detail about what they do – if you are interested their website is infinitely more useful than I would be.
For the past few months I have been focused on the communications side of my time in the third sector – which mostly involves editing and proofreading press releases, statements and other documents, using social media to support this more substantive work and generally making sure people know what your colleagues are up to. A lot of this is reactive – sometimes news events regarding freedom of expression require responses – which means I try to help the vastly more qualified people in the office (i.e. everyone) quickly and efficiently get their analysis/condemnation/approval of such events out to the general public. Often this involves thing like cutting down the lengths of titles so they fit on smartphone screens or trying to tone down the specialist language so regular mortals might be able to understand it.
This is the main meat of what my internship has involved. Occasionally I am given the chance to write or research things, which I very much enjoy, the latest of such tasks resulted in this article on the current constitutional mess going on in Hungary which you can read here. The other main thing I’ve done is help to organise a couple of events which I have written about before. It’s all been very interesting and occasionally overwhelming – one of the reasons for starting this blog (besides vanity) was an attempt to get my head around all the new stuff I’ve been told about.
As of last week, I am now working on fundraising support for the regional offices as well as helping our monitoring and evaluation reporting. Basically, I’m now much more involved in operational support – particularly on grant applications (i.e. being a ‘text bitch’) – which means that I’m going to have to learn about the more hidden side* of organisations: funding, internal reports, budgeting, project planning and many, many more excel spreadsheet based information sources.
When I had my first taste of this work – a chat with my new supervisor who tried her best not to be annoyed by how little I knew – I realised that, despite having worked two feet away from the operations/finance people for several months I had no idea about the financial set up of the organisation. Nothing. I don’t know, really, how large an organisation it is, what the budget is even vaguely, where our biggest focus is (in money terms), who are main funders are – it was pretty embarrassing. It was another example of what happens when an intern thinks he’s on top of his work situation…
I hope to rectify this in the next few months. It is my new year’s resolution, of sorts:
In 2012 I will try not to be completely ignorant about matters immediately concerning my job.
It’s aspirational, it’s more achievable than giving up over indulging on booze and I wouldn’t mind other people (for instance, frontline GOP member’s aides) repeating it loudly until it’s installed in me (or frontline GOP candidates) as a sort of mantra.
*I should note that this isn’t because of a lack of transparency or anything sinister like that it’s just because it’s quite a lot more boring than, for example, news stories – not inconsequentially, these are the things that communications teams are so keen to publicise.