Blessing Tshimungu is interning as a Youth Social Worker at From the Heart Church Ministries of Edmonton located in Edmonton, Alberta. The internship lies within the ImpAct stream, funded by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and implemented via the Career Launcher Internship Program.
Her scope of work lies within the Special Needs Education sector of the organization where she can interact and work with people who are not her age, come from diverse backgrounds and possess different thought processes. The internship is giving her the opportunity to network and learn about the nuances of professional communication. She is happy to share a close bond with her coworkers who cultivate a safe and comfortable work environment.
She has had the opportunity to share her experiences with many aspiring interns where she encourages them to grow professionally and personally. The Career Launcher Internship Program provided her with directions and helped her to understand what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
- What is your perception of IWD?
- It a day of love and appreciation for all women and younger girls.
- Why do you think it is important to observe IWD?
- It is important because as women we did not have many rights until a few decades ago. International Women’s Day is an important reminder of where we came from and who we are today.
- What was a problem or task that you were assigned at work and how did you overcome it?
- I have come across different people at work who are not necessarily of the same wavelength as me and there exist differences in thought processes, way of functioning etc. To overcome barriers in working together, I initiated open communication to arrive at a common goal and understanding.
- One tip you could give employers on how they should onboard their intern.
- Most interns would find it easier to socialize and bond with employees of the organization if there were fun games or icebreakers at the orientation session. It would help with team-building activities.
- Did the internship make them feel prepared from school/academics to the professional space?
- The internship helped me to understand how the outside world works in terms of interacting and working with people who are not my age, come from diverse backgrounds etc.
- How inclusive is the workplace or the team?
- The workplace is like one big family where we are extremely close to each other. The team is comprised of an amazing group of people who are more than coworkers. It is a great environment to be myself, a place where my opinions are welcomed, and I am encouraged to be myself without any fear of judgement.
- Are there any new skills that you developed/are developing while you are at the worksite and what are they?
- I learnt about the nuances of communication such as the timing and content of messaging. I acquired the skill of networking with other professionals via email, telephone etc.
- How will your work during the internship make a difference to the community?
- I feel it will encourage other individuals to get more involved in internships to grow and learn. I get a chance to share my experiences with many aspiring interns where it is enriching to share my journey and encourage them to grow individually and professionally.
- Have you come across any negative stereotyping of women at your workplace?
- There has not been any such incident.
- What do you believe can be done to address gender stereotypes in your field?
- Just as there are seminars and workshops to raise awareness about sexual harassment at workplace, drunk-driving and other social issues, similarly there could more awareness about such negative stereotyping of women at workplaces. These educational sessions could address how people should not cross the line and be aware of women as individuals. It would also be worthwhile to stand up when such instances occur and take a moment to educate the offender about the wrong done.
- How did the Career Launcher Internship Program encourage you to begin/ grow a career in the social sector?
- I am not only an intern but also a businessperson and a woman of colour. After high school I was confused about what I should pursue. This internship provided me with directions and helped me to understand what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.