I am a striving pharmacy student and an intern at Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC). About a year back, the latter made a big difference in my life. The all caps ‘BIG’ kind.
Life before the internship was rather monotonous. Four hours of my day went into commuting between home and university, and that’s six days a week. Back to back classes and the flood of information every day, topped with strange class timings were little fun, if at all. Coming back home, I was drained off all energy, mostly because of the dreadful, time consuming, and static traffic in the capital. Adding to my laziness, and much to my mum’s disappointment, I came to no use in doing chores or tidying up my room. As a treat to self for dedicating three quarters of my day for the purpose of academics, I stayed up late watching and rewatching TV series and movies. I used to spend my weekends sleeping till noon, in an attempt to compensate for all the sleep deprived weekdays, but they would only leave me lethargic and thus, unfit to deploy the remaining hours of my day (if only it was so easy).
My daily life revolved around these few activities, yielding no productivity, no definition or purpose in life. I believed in going with the flow and took no action to redirect myself. A year back, when I was offered the internship, I was flattered and scared. I wasn’t in a habit of taking responsibility but I was intrigued and ready to take the challenge. It would be an opportunity to get familiarized with, and prepare myself for the workplace environment, and most importantly, learn, learn a lot! Learn which I cannot learn elsewhere, learn which will better me as an individual, learn which will add value to my life. So, I took it. I started working as a Communication Intern. Yes, you saw that right- communication, nothing to do with what I was studying.
My internship allowed me to discover my hidden potential. The thing that I feared most— time management and having to compromise my studies, were taken care of. My added role made me more aware of my time constraints. I prioritize and plan my week ahead, making time for my studies, work, and social interactions. I still watch and rewatch my favorite TV shows, just not every day. My colorful post-its and felt tip pens finally came to use, as I paraded them with my week plan on my desk. Though is a lot more going on, my life is more composed and organized.
As I look back into the preceding year, I can make a list of all the new skills that I have acquired.
Editing texts: I had little experience in editing articles prior to joining the internship, but it turns out editing is not only about correcting grammatical errors and eliminating redundancy, but also to know the reader of the text. As a non-profit organization and an institute, BYLC has a number of different target groups, and I learned to edit articles and texts accordingly, i.e. amend the style and tone of writing, and include relevant content that will be well received by the target group.
Preparing publications: In contrary to my preconceived idea, a publication is not just a mere booklet with amazing pictures and graphics, and supporting information. In addition to preparing target specific content, equal emphasis needs to be put in the accompanying pictures, the colors, fonts, and styles. I feel a sense of ownership when it comes to these publications. Months from now, when I will scroll through them, I will cherish the making of my creations.
Content development: I have had the opportunity of learning the techniques of developing different kinds of content. Awareness posts, program specific information, news updates, call to action, etc. are all composed of words and images that are chosen and arranged with very specific intentions.
Operating social media: Social media platforms are most convenient in reaching the mass, and to engage them to a cause. Before my internship, I had doubts about the usefulness of social media. Being on the providing end, I came to realize the positive impact Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms can have on our lives.
Data keeping: One of my key responsibilities was to keep a track of performances and activities of the communication department. Working with excel, recording all activities, and organizing files and folders seemed tedious at first, but their significance struck when I had to get back to them for content development. It’s one of the most efficient ways of being organized and productive.
Professional etiquette: You can’t just go up to someone and ask for work to be done. You can’t simply blabber out a list of work or jot them on a spare sheet, and expect the person to complete the work. You can’t chat on the phone or zone out to your own world with music, while in the office. There is a specific list of dos and don’ts in each organization that ensures unobstructed workflow. Bearing this in mind required effort initially, but I got a good hold of it once I realized its effectiveness.
Maintaining consistency: No mistake is trivial! Any mistake is to be taken seriously, and corrected immediately. We call it attention to detail. It’s greatly valued at BYLC because it builds your credibility, and who doesn’t appreciate a job well done? At the beginning, the hundreds of mistakes in my writing made me regret shirking English grammar classes at school. But I learned from my mistakes, and tried not to repeat them. My supervisor has a major role to play here. Instead of intimidating me with ultimatums, she helped me learn to identify the flaws and correct them myself. Not just in the case of grammar, any kind of work is best presented when consistent. It’s easy to follow. This seemingly minor practice adds a lot of weight to your work.
Through this internship, I was introduced to a myriad of concepts and techniques that would help me in my work. I attended workshops to further enrich my knowledge as a communication professional. I had the opportunity to meet entrepreneurs, high-achievers, iconic figures during my time as an employee at BYLC. My perspective has quite impressively transformed into that of communication. Most of the work that I had to do helped me heaps in my academics. My presentation skills, speech delivery, and report writing saw new heights. Following my work in the office, I participated in coordinating publication works for the student club in my department. I enjoy the work that I do and like to incorporate in most of my activities.
Of course, my internship did not help me with the hectic days. Sometimes I have to bring work home. But it’s of worth when I know my work is appreciated and is of value; when I know that my experience makes me better. Over my time in BYLC, I have been trusted with some highly significant work. This I like to believe is due to my dedication and the willingness to explore newer arenas. One way I enjoy my work is by not limiting myself to the job responsibilities, and that keeps me going. Hard work paying off on the exam papers, words of appreciation from my senior colleagues, and support from my parents boost my energy, and make me aim higher. Life is loaded, but still good.
As a fellow student who is learning to balance work, studies and personal life and as someone who goes through a panic attack every time things get messed up, I encourage all the other university students in Bangladesh to be proactive. Get an internship, get a part-time job, work your hands in club activities. They all come with the incentive of acquiring knowledge and gaining experience that will prepare you for the upcoming. I have come across many students, here at BYLC, who are accomplishing great things while excelling in studies. It assures me that multitasking is doable and beneficial. The world is competitive, and everything that you know scores you a brownie point. Research the skills that are essential for you to learn, and make sure you are fully prepared for your dream job.
On a personal note, my perception of being versatile has changed after working at BYLC. Yes, I want to build an impressive profile, and a top-notch resume for my career. But having met young individuals who aim beyond their professional life to apply their skills for the lives of others, gives me a new purpose of learning more. That feeling of helping others, with no strings attached, is strangely pleasing. You see, in the course of learning new things you will be amazed at your own capabilities. Unveil them and use them well to make a difference in your own life and in the lives of others. I am not an expert myself, but with the belief that it’s all rewarding in the end, that is where I am headed.
The author is currently completing her undergraduate studies in pharmacy and works as a Communication intern at BYLC.