I’d like to give you an idea of what it’s like to intern at the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach. Most days as a Columban Advocacy intern are not tense, heart-pounding audiences with congressional staffers, or romantic, revolutionary protests, but rather warm, cozy days at the office.
My workday starts at 9 but I usually arrive around 8:30 due to bus schedules. I’m almost always the first one here, so the office—lights out, drawn shades barring most of the daylight—has the comfortable, sleepy feel of the dorm room I’ve left to come here.
After settling in, I occupy myself until 9 by either checking email or trying to finish assignments for school. If the answering machine has messages I take them.
Before 9 both Amy and Michelle, Director and Advocacy Associate, arrive. We exchange friendly good mornings; if it’s Monday we ask how our weekends were.
By 9:00 I’m in work-mode. Mondays I look for a suitable topic—a holiday, current event, or issue we’re fired up about—to write a post on for the CCAO Facebook page (facebook.com/ColumbanCenter). On other days, unless I have pressing deadlines, I begin my workday browsing online newspapers in Australia, Chile, and the Philippines (three countries with a Columban presence that I’ve been assigned to monitor) for news that interests us.
10:00 Monday I meet with Michelle to discuss my pending assignments and issues. Then at 10:30 I sit with Brian, Outreach Associate, to discuss Facebook posts, blogs, and any other responsibilities I may have. He and I often converse in Spanish.
After my meetings—or by around 10 on Wednesdays and Fridays—I transition to my more specific issues. My big topics this semester have been working against the Keystone XL pipeline and calling for transparency in Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.
All us part-time interns (there are five of us) have different schedules. I work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. Monday morning I’m alone among the interns; Wednesday I work with Kathleen, and Friday with Kathleen and Juanita.
The only time the whole office is together is Fridays at noon when we do our weekly reflection. We begin with a moment of silence, relaxation, and reflection. Then we take turns leading in prayer and reading selected passages from scripture, after which the floor is open to discussion. I usually like to relate our readings to the advocacy work we do at CCAO—themes like justice and perseverance. Sometimes, however, we simply discuss issues of being globally conscious Christians in today’s world.
This is basically a composite of my typical day/week as an Advocacy Intern at the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach. But this catalogue of my daily routine doesn’t do justice to the best part of working here, which is the atmosphere.
We’re a small group here, nine people with similar values and outlooks sharing a cozy office suite. Our conversations are warm, our speech gentle. Something that surprised me when I started here was that oftentimes the staff—Amy, Michelle, Brian, and our volunteer Veronica—come into the intern office and initiate conversations with us. Far from telling us to stop socializing and mind our work, they actually go out of their way to establish good relationships among everyone in the office.
It’s this warmth and openness that I’ll most remember from my CCAO internship. It’s an immensely positive internship experience, one that I’m afraid may spoil me with regard to what I expect from a work environment.