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Interning at a NGO: My Experience at the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association

Written by Rowan Wilkinson, a volunteer at ACAA

 

I started my journey with the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association at the beginning of July this year, and it has been an experience that has guided me to my desired career path and provided me with skills and development that I did not think I would gain in the short time of 4 months. So, in this personal blog I am going to run through what I learnt, how it has affected my path and what others could gain from the same opportunity.

 

Confidence

Throughout my time at university I worked for an international development non-governmental organisation (NGO). However, despite my 3 amazing years with them I never fully felt as though I was comfortable or confident enough to take on parts of the organisation myself. The idea of more responsibility was something that I was scared of but joining the ACAA as an intern changed that for me.

I was able to apply all my previous knowledge and understanding of the charity sector in a supportive setting; where I was given creative freedoms and an opportunity to run social media without constraining supervision. This chance has built up my self-confidence and conviction in my own work; producing numerous blogs, editing other people’s writing, promoting the Summer Festival, posting incredibly interesting articles on social media and keeping the charity up to date on news and media such as the animation film the Breadwinner.

 

Being Part of a Community

My identity as a Londoner has always felt very important to me. I have always relished and deeply appreciated the diversity and multi-cultural nature of my community in West London. However, since university I felt as though I had been detached from this link, and the ACAA brought it back. Working with Central Asian refugees and a workforce of many different backgrounds has allowed me to take part in the community and diversity of London that I missed so much. In addition to providing me with a sense of gratification and giving back to society that I have never experienced in other previous work experience.

 

Diversifying my CV

I have known for a few years now that I want to venture into development work, but my CV was not quite up to scratch. Volunteering part-time with the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association has given me the chance to develop existing and new skills that employers look for, such as teamwork, critical thinking, communicative abilities, events management, PR experience and creativity whilst in a professional setting. In such an increasingly competitive job market, where the value of an undergraduate degree has decreased, experience in a professional environment is crucial to securing employment opportunities. Without relevant experience in addition to a degree, I doubt I would have been offered the United Nations internship programme that I am now moving on to.

So all I can do is give a massive thank you to the ACAA for all the transferable skills and experiences they have given me over the past 4 months. It has been the position and stepping stone I really needed to improve myself. I wish the organisation good luck in the future and will be supporting and watching their impending achievements and programmes with admiration.

If you would also like to gain the skills and experience that I have from working for the ACAA, be sure to check out their website at https://acaa.org.uk/ and contact them accordingly.

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