Eliyan: Putting knowledge into practice

Eliyan Umamy, a student from Indonesia who studied public relations at Pierce College, was a participant in the Northwest Community College Initiative program in 2012-2013. In part two of our series of alumni internship advice, she shares how her internship experience at United Way of Pierce County translated gave her the skills to work at in the non-profit sector when she returned home and gives advice on ways to succeed at an internship. You can read her previous blog post about volunteering at a local soup kitchen in Tacoma. 

EliyanI will never forget that special phone call from United Way of Pierce County (UWPC) one fine afternoon, March 13, 2013. Kathryn, a donor relations officer, working at UWPC contacted me after communicating through emails. I had requested to have an internship at UWPC office based in Tacoma, and she surprisingly accepted my request.

Since I have always wanted to get an opportunity to work at professional NGO, that news seemed to me like a great opportunity. A few days after that call, I went to UWPC office for the first day of work. I was a little bit nervous and worried at the same time, wondering if I could meet the expectations. Things turned out wonderfully after all, Kathryn introduced me to every one at the office, and I got my first welcome gift as new intern. I also got my very own cubicle with a computer, telephone, and also an official UWPC email. The work atmosphere was very warm and friendly. I loved it!

My main task was to help Kathryn work with the donors, specifically on completing the “Donor Thanks A Ton” project. I had to make lists of donors based on some considerations; the year they started donating, the amount of donation, the company they work at, and the neighborhood. Donors were then contacted based on the availability of information; home address, email, and or telephone number. When the list was ready, I had to assign them to volunteers, considering that no less than 300 thank you cards must be sent each week. It was interesting that UWPC committed to send a hand-written card to thank their donors. Each and every donors is treated as special.

I learned many valuable things during my internship at UWPC. A few basic rules to remember are to never come late (unless you have communicated before), and do your best to meet or even exceed the work expectations. Communication is always, always important. It is always okay to ask if you don’t understand the instructions; the boss and other coworkers will gladly explain what being asked. Be kind and friendly to your fellow coworkers, try to remember their names and make friends with them.The  internship period might seem difficult at the beginning, but as we interacted and enjoyed our work, it turned out to be a wonderful, unforgettable work experiences.

The internship matched my certificate in public relations. Although it was short, it really helped me to put into practice what I have learned theoretically at school. The internship also helped me develop some important skills, such as communication, critical thinking, and teamwork. All those important skills are very helpful. My communication skills are getting better, thus it improved the quality of my work. I also become more confident to deliver my ideas.

Now, I am working for some different projects that are related to community development, education, youth, and the environment.  I am grateful for what I have learned back in the United States, since it really helped me develop, both in personal and professional way. As for now, I am looking forward to getting more chances to grow and enjoy the adventure of life.

The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

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