Saturday, July 14, 2007

Skills-infested NGO environment

It has been a fortnight since my internship started, and what an incredible two weeks it has been! During this time, I have been assigned three main tasks, and these have called for some seriously out-of the box thinking and time management skills. One of the tasks required that I draft a proposal to the media. And so, I did. Many hours later, I presented my “labour-of-love" to my supervisor.

He worked his magic all over my original draft by re-wording and re-packaging it in sheer brilliance that when the final document finally emerged, it just blew me away. This episode reminds me that I still have a long way to go before I can get a handle on this skill.

Another thing that I have observed at AICC is the value of team work. When someone is handling a project and there are deadlines to beat, it is amazing the swiftness with which the staff rally around each other. Terms like ‘organisational fit’ and ‘team-player’ begin to make sense when you are part of a small outfit (less than 10 members of staff on board) like ours (did I say ours?).

But, it is not all desk work at the AICC (yup!) We had a two-day breather when we hosted a multi-stakeholder round table meeting (that is NGO-speak for you. I picked up another term as well, ‘beneficiation’). These people! Anyway, this event was held at the South African Human Rights Commission where I met a whole range of these NGO-types who are involved in tailoring a South African self-assessment tool on human rights for businesses. I actually got the opportunity to witness some high level brain-storming session in action... Yo, I tell you, there are some seriously brilliant minds out there.

Whether it is contagious or not, I am determined to catch (or learn) as many skills as I can from these skills-crammed individuals.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

My ship finally docks

When Paul Kapelus, CEO of the African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC) made his presentation on mentorship at the Growing Tomorrow's Leaders workshop in June, he said that interns at his organisation were thrown to the deep-end of the business and they were expected to learn the ropes and swim to shore... quickly.

Fast Forward... 30 days later... and believe me, Paul meant business...

This week marks a new dawn in my career. The first day was a time of induction into the organisation. I spent a good chunk of my time hoping from desk to desk interacting with my colleagues and getting the low-down on the on-going projects. On the second day, I was assigned the task of drafting AICC’s Communication Policy along with a more seasoned colleague. I am still getting my head around this task.

In an organization this tight, there is no falling through the cracks!

Something else:
It is possible that I took to AICC like a duck to water because of its family-like bond (you should have seen the reception the 6-month old baby of a colleague got yesterday from the staff... yo! Did I mention our happy faces and merry chatting that fills the boardroom over lunch?) or perhaps it is because the AICC canoe is paddled by half-a-dozen Wits alumni... (mostly WoW-graduates, if I may add).

Something in my heart tells me that I am in the right place. The truth is, I have mixed feelings - a part of me is excited immensely and yet another is intimidated by the challenge ahead...