I have completed three and a half months of my internship at American Red Cross. I have worked 116 hours and I got this internship through the CUNY Service Corps. I still need 134 hours in order to get the 250 hours that I am required to take as part of the service program. In just three and a half months I have noticed how my academic knowledge that I have gained over the four years at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in classes and related extracurricular activities has assisted in me in my fieldwork at American Red Cross.
The film classes that I have taken as electives over the past few years has helped me get the internship and it is still helping me. I have taken three film classes (introduction to films, science fiction films, and video production basics) which taught me about making films and editing films. During my interview with American Red Cross, they asked me about my experience with making films and they told how that is a plus point for me because they are starting an academy and they need someone to always take pictures and make videos that they can use to promote American Red Cross for the next cohort.
During the last three months I have been taking pictures of the open house of the academy, pictures of the orientation, and making a video of all the holiday pictures for a party on December 12th, 2018 at American Red Cross Greater New York. The class that helped me the most is DRA 225 (Criminal Justice in the theater) with Professor John Donaldson. The class helped me with my public speaking skills because before this I was always afraid of presenting in front of a class in college. In the class we read plays and did role plays off the characters from the play, plays like Macbeth and the Crucible.
Public speaking is an important skill that assisted in my fieldwork because I had to host the open house and the orientation for the response academy. I needed the public speaking skills to win over the crowd and make them want to join the academy. I needed to use the public speaking skills to motivate the volunteers to part of the academy and commit to at least 16 hours of volunteer service each month. I needed the public speaking skills to inform the volunteers about the classes they are going to have to take during the academy and the trainings that they have to complete online and during their field shift at American Red Cross. The third class that assisted me in my internship is UGR 277 (Introduction experiential learning) with Professor Andrea West.
The professor had the students going to courts and talking with public defense attorneys and prosecutors and the practice of talking with professionals every week taught me what is the right way to approach them and ask them questions about the court cases. This experience helped me when I talked with firefighters and police officers in the field when responding to fires or vacates. I learned how to approach the officers and firefighters and ask them questions about how the fire started and how many people are living in this house and is the house livable or not livable after the fire. The information that I got from the officers and firefighters helped me decide how I can further assist the clients.
My English classes (English 101, English 201, Lit 233 – American Stories) taught me how to improve my writing skills. I used the writing skills that I learned from these classes to write letters, contracts, and forms that were required for the response academy. Having a writing skill is really important and every job requires the person that they hire has a good writing skill. The skill is used when writing emails or reports on what the employees have done for the day or the month. The writing has to be in a manner that is understood by others and the thoughts of the person are clear and organized.
I am also part of the ACE (Accelerate Complete Engage) at John Jay, which is a program designed to help students complete their academic journey to the bachelor’s degree within four years. The program has assisted me with the support I needed to get an internship by doing module trainings every month. The modules including resume writing workshops, creating a cover letter for internship opportunities and conducting informational interviews.
The resume and cover letter workshops helped me build a resume and a cover letter based on my education, experience, accomplishments, and skills. How I can market myself on the resume and cover letter determined whether I got an interview or not with the company or the organization. In the program, we also did a number of mock interviews and it taught me skills that I used to get the internship. It taught me to think on my feet. I was asked questions that I didn’t practice and I wasn’t ready with an answer, but during the mock interviews, I was asked questions that I wasn’t ready for and I learned to answer on the spot with confidence and clarity.
The mock interviews helped me receive feedback on my strengths and my weaknesses. The mock interview helped me prepare for the internship and future job interview and I am always working on areas that I am weak in and need to grow. The program also taught the right ways to email as shown in the article ‘15 Communication Etiquette Rules Every Professional Needs To Know’ by Vivian Giang. I always need to use a professional email and at American Red Cross I always used the Red Cross email that I was provided with to send out any emails related to my work. I also had my supervisor check my emails before I send the emails out to the members of the academy that I was working with.
This is a really important skill because I am always sending emails at American Red Cross and I always have to be professional because when I am sending out the emails or replying back to the emails I am representing the organization. In the module training, we were also taught to only text the person if you know the person and not to use shortcuts while texting that are common today and that is why I only texted my supervisor after talking to her about it and getting her ‘okay’ for it. All these skills that I learned during my classes and the ACE program helped me get the job and helped me during the internship.
Even though many skills that I have learned from the classes and the ACE program assisted me during the fieldwork I was still lacking some skills and knowledge that was needed for this internship. For example, many times I worked in the office and I needed to update the rosters for the attendance of who attended the events that was part of the academy and who didn’t, but because I never used excel before and it took me a few weeks to get used to it and learn. I also never used outlook before and American Red Cross employees and interns only use outlook for everything, from word, powerpoint, excel, calendar, and tasks. Another important skill and knowledge that I acquired to go on the field required training and certification in first aid, CPR, and AED. I took two classes at American Red Cross to get my certification in first aid, CPR, and AED in October 2018 and since then I was allowed to go on the field and respond to home fires, building collapses, floods, and vacates.
I really enjoyed this internship and I am sure that I will enjoy it the next semester also. CUNY Service Corps gave the chance to make a meaningful difference through service at American Red Cross and at the same time gain valuable work experience and get paid. I got the chance to work on challenging projects like starting the response academy and doing the first open house and orientation for the first cohort. I got the chance to be part of organization meetings that gave me a broad exposure to the organization. My supervisors were always making sure that I am accomplishing the goals, keeping pace and being engaged in it at the same time. I have learned skills that I didn’t think that I needed before like excel, first aid, CPR, and AED. I got the chance to use the skills that I have learned in my classes and the ACE program at John Jay College.
I can improve this internship more in the future by requesting for more fieldwork time and less office work time because I want to be out on the field and talk to professionals and make contacts, which can help me in the later stage when I am job hunting. Being more on the field will improve my soft skills (communication skills, social skills, people skills), skills that are required when talking to people right after when they just had the worst day in their life (house on fire or they have to vacate the house). Overall this is a great place to intern at and that is why I had my friend from the ACE program at John Jay college also apply and go to the interview to be an intern next semester. On the next page, I have created a letter of advice of my friend who applied and also other interns for the next semester.
Letter of Advice
Dear Future Intern,
Before I give my advice, I would like to congratulate you on getting this internship. This internship can help you apply the knowledge you have learned from the classroom to real work experience and you can gain the experience in the career field you want to pursue. Now my advice, first I say to always keep in mind that internship is the place where you build your professional network because making connections with people is important and internships like this provide a great environment to meet professionals in the career field you want to pursue or have similar interests.
Next, communication is really important and the article ‘15 Communication Etiquette Rules Every Professional Needs To Know’ by Vivian Giang talks about the rules when it comes to communicating via the email, phone, instant message, text or even Skype. These rules such as using professional email at the workplace, don’t answer your phone when meeting with others or don’t change the time of meeting in a text, have really helped me during my time as an intern.
Another article that helped me that I suggest reading is ‘Entry Level Observations: Reverse Ageism’ by Ashley Nicole, it helped me because it reminds me that just because our generation grew up with technology doesn’t means that we know everything, there are still things that we need to learn how to use and adapt to. For example, I never used Outlook before, but now because of this internship I learned the Outlook system and use it for everything I do at this internship. There is always going to be things that you didn’t know before, but you don’t have to act like you know because it is better to be honest and tell the truth that you don’t know how to do this and they will always help you learn.
Don’t let people take the advantage of you just because you’re the new person because it doesn’t mean you have to do all the work, you are there to help them achieve their goals or finish projects, but that does not mean you have to do all the work by yourself. Last advice comes from the article ‘what employer behaviors should be deal-breakers for employees?’ by Alison Green, which talks about things that managers or employers do that you should really think about if it happens to you and talk to your advisor at John Jay or professor about this problem.
This can include managers who say things that they will do (like filling your timesheet) and promise you, but then break the promise without knowing that it is a big deal for you because it can set you behind on the numbers of hours you have worked or if your in the CUNY Service Corps, then you won’t get paid for the hours because your manager didn’t send the timesheet.
It can also be managers who regularly make you feel awful by yelling at you or overly personal criticism. Finally, it can be where the work environment is where you feel unsafe. I appreciate the time you took to read this letter and I really hope that the advice that I have provided helps you in a positive way and make your internship experience fun and learning.