In the latest installment of Concordia's Intern Journals, we sat down with Daniel Garcia, who joined Concordia as Strategic Engagement Intern this past summer.
This past winter, I applied to the Libra Internship Program for positions within social responsibility, which is one of the sectors in which the Libra Group operates. Throughout the interview process with Libra, I had the opportunity to speak with Regina Sheridan, Head of Education Programs at the Libra Group and former Concordia Executive Director. We both felt that Concordia would be a great fit for my keen interest in social responsibility, and so I was placed in Concordia’s Strategic Engagement department.
On one hand, I gained many technical, practical skills during my time with Concordia. I learned how to operate and use a CRM database, how to use platforms such as Trello and Civi, and how to write proposals. But I’ve also learned soft skills, as well, such as working productively within a team, communicating with people from other organizations, and so forth. My learning experience at Concordia has definitely been two-fold in that aspect.
I’m in the strategic engagement department, which means we do the initial outreach and network building which ultimately results in Concordia’s social impact. The impact that I’ve seen during my time here comes from initiatives like Day of Engagement, which brought high-level individuals to Biblioseo following the Americas Summit. Biblioseo serves underprivileged youth in the areas surrounding Bogotá, Colombia. Concordia brought its network there to share its knowledge, experience, and skills with the Biblioseo community. Our network also gained a once-in-a-lifetime experience of being onsite with this local organization and seeing how they live, operate, and serve their community. The impact that took place was a two-way street.
Prior to this summer, my experience was in retail and higher education — I hadn’t worked in a non-profit environment. During the school year, I work in an administrative position at my college, where I mainly interact with the Vice President of the school, students, and parents. Because of the nature of the job, the people I’m serving are close to me, I can see them, which gives me a good perspective of what I’m doing and what needs to be done. At Concordia, however, it was easier to lose sight of the impact that we’re having. That’s been one challenge for me. However, this is why we implement initiatives like Day of Engagement: for us to bring the Concordia community to witness impactful partnerships in action. Another challenge that I have learned a lot from has been working in stressful situations. That is to say, though, the stress of working during the Americas Summit and learning everything on the jump was not a stress that I wanted to run away from, it was a stress that I wanted to tackle head-on because I knew I was learning incredibly useful skills and that this organization is making a significant impact on this region of the world. I have not only learned to work through difficult situations, but I’ve also gained personal insight on how I operate within these circumstances and how I should be operating in the future as I grow professionally.