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Haven’t been writing here, and for a good reason. I’ve got better at entrying my journal, and it’s just too much work to keep up with both.

Things have been going smoothly, and at the same time overwhelming, and that’s not an oxymoron. I’m pleased with everything that I have going on here, but it’s just a little too much on my plate right now.

We have a Bharatanatyam performance in 2 days. I’m only dancing a short piece, but it’s still a ton of work. We have at least 3 practices each week, and last weekend, we were away in Tepotzlan at Paty’s (my teacher) house to rehearse.

In the office, I’ve pretty much been by myself. Laura, the other intern (now a former intern), already left at the beginning of this month for a job at a law firm. Every day, I have to answer all the emails, all the phone calls, talk with everyone who walks into our center, and at the same time, put together on several presentations (state promotions for Illinois, test preps), draft the newsletter and continue working on two big projects: study group and pre-departure orientation. The way I usually work is concentrate and be productive for a couple of hours, then slow down for about half an hour, and then restart my engine. With all these deadlines coming down on me bam bam bam, I hardly even have time to breath, let alone slow down.

Also work-related, met with Megan for a mid-term evaluation, and learned more crucial lessons on professionalism. I love walking barefoot, and have a problem keeping my shoes on. Especially when i sit at one place (a.k.a. in front of the computer in the office) for a long time, I have the habit of kicking my shoes out, and then I’d get up and walk around barefoot. I also need to change my postures from time to time, and that may mean sitting cross-legged on my chair. All of this looks casual and unprofessional. Another thing that Megan brought up was my style of communication. She said I was too blunt and a little too casual with higher-up like Alan, which is totally true. While I understand that Alan is the top boss, it’s hard to avoid chitchatting with him. We speak in English (i tend to be very casual in English) and he makes you feel like you’re one of his best pals. And when I don’t feel distant from someone, I can also be very direct. Also, (unfortunately), it’s hard for me to “praise” or complement to people of higher ranks. It feels both inappropriate (they’re the boss after all – they don’t need my evaluation) and too ass-kissing. Maybe I just need to learn how. Or maybe someone can teach me another way to look at it that is not: making your boss feel good about him/herself so that you can become a favorite –> puke

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Yesterday, I gave half of a presentation on “how to choose a college major” … in Spanish! I thought it went pretty well and I did a decent job in explaining – especially to the parents – the confusing system of a liberal arts education: how a major is just a part of your whole undergraduate degree, what it means to major or minor, how it is possible to have a major and a minor, two majors at the same time, etc. I was proud that I managed to stick to most of the public speaking principles that I’ve learned: energy level, interactiveness, eye contact, etc. and that I wasn’t fumbling on my Spanish. Still, I need to get the feedback from Megan.

On a less positive note, I just received a rejection email from Mundus M.A.P.P, the Master program in Public Policy in Europe. It’s a downright rejection and strangely, I don’t feel that rejected — maybe i’ll start tormenting myself once i’ve had time to chew on it more, but right now it’s just a bummer.

Second day in Mexico City, first day at work.

I’m totally exhausted. I had a full day from 9 to 5 (starting from tomorrow, it’s 8:30 to 5:30), I just spent 3 hours walking around to look for a room, and I’m still sick.

The first day was full of normal orientation stuff like who’s who, where’s where, until my boss, M. mentioned my blog and how it was not professional of me to portray the organization in a negative light. I was like: wait, what, my blog? what are you talking about? (*thinking: how the f*** did you come across about my blog?*) Imagine how incredulous I was. I suddenly remember that about a week ago, according to GoogleAnalytics, my blog had 4 visitors from Mexico City. Having no friends here, I was surprised but assumed that someone just stumbled upon my page through some random google link. I was dead wrong. They were my boss and her supervisors, reading one of the posts about my Mexican visa saga when I happened to mention E/USA. The exact quote is: “What’s more, E/USA, the organization I’m interning for in Mexico, might not even be authorized to pay foreigners.” At that time, I wrote the full name of the organization and apparently, the link was sent to the really high-up boss in Washington DC from Google Alerts. (For those of you out of the know, like myself, the program tracks down every single mention of a word of your choice – in this case, E/USA – posted in the net.) I myself think that all of my frustration was directed towards the Mexican consulate and definitely not E/USA, but I can see why they still thought that it constituted a “poor professional judgment.” It was an important lesson to learn, from now on, I just need to be extra careful when I mention these proper names. I was also a little uncomfortable that some people at work have seen my blog, though I’m sure that they have tons of other things to take care of and won’t go back to read it.

I finally got my visa on Thursday, after 6 visits to the Mexican consulate. I was sad that I would not see the receptionist and the two security guards anymore; they were always very sympathetic each time they saw me turn up at the door looking both helpless and exasperated.

Today’s my last day in Oakland, and maybe in the U.S. I might not be able to come back to the States when I’m done with my internship in May. I’ve been thinking about the 3.5 years that I’ve spent here. I have changed so much and yet I am still the same person. I still feel many things that I felt when I first left home and came here the summer of 2005. But this may be something that I can better think about when I’m in Mexico.

Anyways, it has felt real good to have something to look forward to so that my days wouldn’t feel so pointless. Over the next few months, I won’t have to worry about how to occupy my time every morning when I wake up. I have so many plans for Mexico, to work hard, to meet people and get to know the city, to live on and only on the $500/month stipend, to have my friends come over to visit, to hopefully find a Bharatanatyam class, etc.

Mexico, here I come.

I just finished the security clearance forms for Educ___USA. It’s required because the office is funded by the State Department. I had to list every single place that I’ve been to and lived in, every school I’ve attended, every job I’ve had in the past 7 years, and with each of these, one person who knows or knew me, and their addresses AND phone numbers.

So far the internship in Mexico is the best after-graduation option for me: the job seems stimulating, the commitment is not long, and I get paid, not much, but enough to get by on a budget. Normally I’d jump up at the chance to go anywhere, and I’ve started the paperwork – and it might not go through – but I’m actually not that thrilled this time.

This is my second bout of travel guilt. I distinctly remember the first one. I was in Hawai’i; I had hardly started traveling back then, but I was at the high of my idealist militancy, and I felt like I should have gone home and got myself integrated in some kind of social movement, started building network, etc. instead of bumming around. All of this was weighing down my mind until I met an old hobo from Cali on a bus ride in the Big Island. I confided in him and he gave me his words of wisdom: it’s ok – you’re going to places and meeting people and learning; it will enrich you as a person and you will be more of help to others later in life.
His assurance has helped me got through the past few years with few moments of doubt. I’ve constantly told myself: I’m young, I want to see the world, I want to learn from other people. And it’s true. I owe so much to the relationships that I’ve built and/or kept while being away from home: old friends that stay with me, new ones that I’ve made, strangers that take me in, feed me, look out for me. They encourage, inspire, essentially shape me into who I am. I’ve learned tremendously.
But at this moment, I really don’t know if I can use the same “excuse” to justify spending 5 months in Mexico City, doing something that I’m interested in but not as a career. I just feel like once I graduate, I should head-dive right into the chosen path, learning more skills in either a social service or a policy setting. But maybe 5 months is not terribly long, summer will come and I’ll head home? Maybe I can afford some procrastination?

I rarely ever say that i don’t like something or someone and people think i’m just trying to be diplomatic. The simple truth is that i don’t have the “extreme” personality. I might feel upset, disappointed, irritated or whatever, but in the end i don’t hold much feeling about that person. I honestly can’t think of anyone that i actively dislike [must be someone who constantly lies and cheats, and luckily i have never ran into such a person] and there are very few that i don’t like, so it surprised me how much i don’t like Mr. J., given that i haven’t spent that much amount of time here. I can barely stand the time that i spend in his presence [or he spends in my presence]. It’s all bullshit.

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