A Day in the Life
This post comes from Shannon Vance, International Services/Military Services intern from Bradley University.
At our chapter you will find disaster services, health and safety teams, development gurus and communications experts. Every team will welcome you with a smile and a helping hand because we’re the American Red Cross. However if you’re really lucky, you will also find two wonderful people, sharing a cubicle and occasionally wearing coordinating colors. Say hello to your International Services team. It’s a pleasure to meet you.
Since June of this year, I have served as the International Services Intern under Emily Richards who is the Regional Manager for International Services and Service to the Armed Forces. Got a question about International Humanitarian Law? We’re your go-to people. Want more information about Restoring Family Links? Absolutely, let’s hear it. Perhaps you’re more interested in our fight against measles and rubella. We can do that too. Having your hands in so many different projects can seem daunting and stressful, but is it really a good job if you’re not passionate about what you’re working on?
With that being said, welcome to International Services. Let me show you what one of my days as an intern would look like.
Monday Morning: All-Staff Meeting
Sitting around a U-Shaped table is part of the Central Illinois Red Cross team. Here we’ll go around and update everyone on the projects we’re currently doing, sharing funny anecdotes and laughing about the Youth Program’s ‘Sneezy Sam’ model- you fill a bottle behind him with water and when a pump is pressed it squirts out of his nose as if he was sending snot flying. Really disgusting but really effective if you want to teach kids to cover their faces when they sneeze.
Weekly Meeting with Emily
After an always eventful all-staff meeting, Emily and I regroup back in our cubicle. Surrounded by echoing phone calls and filing cabinets, we have our weekly meeting. Here we’ll talk about current projects that I’m working on or that I should start to work on during that coming week. This summer it has been full of Restoring Family Links outreach work- making excel documents filled with potential local partners that work with refugees, writing scripts for cold calls into our region’s chapter offices and finding the best way for our staff and the community to become educated about this important program.
Motivated hours of work and jokes
One of the best parts about working with such a small team (mainly just Emily) is that we’re able to get a lot of work done but also have an enjoyable time doing so. After our weekly meeting, both Emily and I find ourselves pretty motivated and efficiently working. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t talking and having a grand ‘ol time, but it means that we are spending an immense amount of time bouncing ideas off of each other and cc’ing each other on numerous emails. If someone were to take a glance at my inbox they would think that all I did was spend my days sending and receiving emails to or from Emily. What can I say? We like to send emails.
Afternoon Meeting with Erin and Austin
There comes a time in every International Services Intern’s life when you realize that it would be severely helpful for you to know the basics of Red Cross Public Affairs. The first step towards posting important International Services tidbits on Twitter and Facebook is to have a chat with Erin, our Communications Director and her assistant, Austin. Within minutes I have learned the steps I need to take in order to become Red Cross Twitter Approved and am on my merry way to finding facts about World Refugee Day to share with the worldwide web.
Snack Time in the Break Room
While the vending machines in the break room might not provide the largest selection of drinks and snacks, I find myself craving some Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies or a Mt. Dew around 2:00 in the afternoon. It’s probably because my lunch has started to digest and I’m getting that 2:30 feeling that is always mentioned in the Five Hour Energy commercials but it could also be that I’m just perpetually hungry. The best snack however was on a day when one of our classrooms had been rented out and they had left over brownies. Coming at you with total honesty…I had three of those delicious frosting covered, moist pieces of cake.
Picking out Lunch Options for IHL
You know you’ve made it in the Intern world when your boss lets you help pick catering options for the Team Leader and Team Member trainings that we have in the early fall for our International Humanitarian Law Action Campaign at Bradley University. BBQ, Mexican, Italian, Picnics and Cookout food all sounded delicious to me at the time so hopefully those taking part in the training will thank me for my plethora of choices. You can all think of me when you get your own “2:30 feeling” and have nice cold Coke to wake you up. I pushed for that one.
Scouring the Exchange for RFL documents
As previously mentioned, Restoring Family Links has been a large part of my job here. Early on, before I dedicated my time to creating these specific training documents, I spent some time on the Red Cross’s Exchange and the RFL blog, searching for anything that could be adapted into what we needed. I felt like I was a private eye- I would find a tiny hint of a lead and I would chase it until it ended in a dead end. I talked to Red Cross volunteers and employees in Portland, SW Washington, Chicago and Phoenix in order to find out that what we needed didn’t exist yet. Granted, this process took me more than a day but once I had acquired every little bit of information I could, I took each piece and tried to glue it together. Without those pieces of information, I wouldn’t have been able to make the scripts and training tools that I did. I chalked this one up to be one of my biggest successes.
Ending the day with a little SAF
At this point, I have done a little IHL and RFL so I might as well throw in one more three-lettered acronyms into the mix. Once I accomplished the Service to the Armed Forces training, I could now help close cases in our region. One of the finer details of closing these cases includes writing summary forms for many of the cases that our volunteers from Caterpillar will help us with and stuffing envelopes with surveys. On this particular day, I stuffed envelopes with information on the program so we could send them to military families of new recruits- otherwise known as Get to Know Us Before You Need Us. It truly is the little things that make these programs so successful.
As my final days as the International Services intern edge closer and closer, I find myself latching on the wonderful experiences that I’ve been given over the last two months. I’m ecstatic that someone will follow in my footsteps and be able to experience the same people, the same projects and the same organization I had the chance to, but I’m not quite ready to say goodbye. The Central Illinois Chapter welcomed me in with arms wide open and smiles glued to their faces. People were excited to have me and thrilled that I was going to be spending the summer with them. Maybe not quite as excited as I was to be there, but I suppose that’s to be expected. I was still coming off my high from being in Denmark for five months and coming into a position that was perfect for me, was a wonderful transition back into “real world”. I have made a meaningful, lasting impression on the programs that I had my hands in and the best part about it all is that I don’t truly have to say goodbye to any of them. I will be on the IHL Action Campaign in the fall and I am trained to be an RFL and SAF caseworker. I don’t have to be an intern to give back to the Red Cross and these three programs, but it sure did help me get started.