For the past year, I worked as an intern in the Foundation’s Dialogue and Advocacy department. During this time, I have learnt and experienced what working within a non-governmental organisation (NGO) looks like from within and what it requires to run a NGO.
My internship did not limit me to working only within the Dialogue and Advocacy department, but it also allowed me to work with other departments, such as the Communications and Human Resources departments. My work within the Dialogue and Advocacy department has deepened my knowledge and understanding of general Nelson Mandela Foundation processes and also what is required for a person to become a successful Dialogue and Advocacy Analyst who achieves success in the work that they are advocating for. Outside of experience in work directly related to social justice and human rights, I have also gained general office management experience. For example, I have gained a lot of administrative and secretarial experience, I have learned quite a bit regarding human resources and company recruitment processes, as well as about event coordination and planning.
I still remember my first day at the Foundation as being the most exciting yet nerve wrecking day of my life. I remember thinking this must be the best thing that has ever happened in my life as it was something I had prayed for, and now it was actually happening. We had our intern inductions during the first week and as we met the team and they told us about their positions and who they were, I felt that I was at the right place. Since that day the team has been very open and helpful, I quickly learned that everything they did or said to me contributed towards my skills and professional development. The workload that came after our week of inductions overwhelmed me a bit and I initially struggled to manage my time between my university and work commitments. I communicated this to my supervisor, and I quickly managed to pick up some time management tips from her, and these helped me a lot.
I found that the workplace was very different from what I initially expected. The Foundation really cared about my well-being and my relationship with the team was not only a work relationship. I enjoyed the fact that one could work freely without being "clock watched", if you produced the work that was required of you. I also liked that you could take your lunch break whenever, so you were not forced to have your lunch break at a specific time. I liked the diversity of different professions within the office as this meant that you had something to learn from everyone you came into contact with.
I have been doing a lot of work within Early Childhood Development (ECD) and I got a chance to develop my knowledge and experience within the ECD sector. I have travelled to places I had never been to before for ECD training sessions that we were organising. I have been assisting with the rollout of the ECD registration framework, the registration management tool as well as app testing of the tool. I have also been working on research regarding paternity leave and how fathers could be assisted in becoming caring fathers for their children. I think this work has fostered in me an interest to work with children and that is the direction I would like to take a step towards in my professional career.