The Responsibility of Responsibility

:
A Self-Assessment Essay
“Look after your younger brother, you’re responsible for him!” This is a phrase I
heard an innumerable amount of times when I was growing up. From a young age, my
mother had instilled in me the importance of being a responsible individual. When I was
younger, this meant acting as a good older sister to my younger brother. As I grew older,
however, the meaning behind the word “responsibility” shifted a bit. I would still always
have the responsibility of acting as a good sister to my brother, but as we both grew up,
we became separately responsible for own actions. The word “responsibility” held new
meaning as I reached new stepping-stones in my life. When I was 10 I gained the
responsibility of staying at home by myself. At the age of 16, I gained the responsibility
of driving a car by earning my driver’s license. Presently, at the age of 20, I earned to
responsibility of working my first professional internship. My internship gave new
meaning to the word “responsibility” as I heard it used a countless amount of times
throughout the summer semester. At times, it even made me long for the time when my
only responsibility was making sure no one attempted to steal my brother’s soccer ball at
recess.
When I first entered my junior year of college, my advisor Dr. Horikami informed
me that at some point in my academic future I would need to apply for my practicum.
This would give me the opportunity to experience an internship in a professional setting
where I would be working on materials related to my major. Practicum would also give
me the opportunity to learn, grow, and make connections with people in whichever area
of work I would be placed in. By the end of the spring semester, I received word that I
would be placed in the summer semester for my practicum and the organization for which
I would be working was the Salisbury Wicomico Arts Council, or SWAC as it is
commonly referred to. I eventually received an email from my practicum supervisor, Dr.
Morrison, which included a syllabus filled with expectations I had to live up to during my
internship. One word stood out to me as I read through the list of required actions and
expectations: responsibility. Dr. Morrison and Dr. Horikami had placed me at SWAC
hoping that I would find my time there enjoyable and informative, as well as placing their
faith in me as a responsible young adult who can handle the pressures and responsibilities
of working in a professional setting.
When I began working for SWAC, I knew that it would most likely be the
opposite of what I had in mind. I had read plenty of books and seen enough reality shows
about interns working in the professional world who were forced to make coffee runs and
file endless amounts of papers for a measly salary (luckily my internship was for credits
so I need not worry about the salary aspect). But I was hopeful that my internship would
not mirror what I’d read in books or seen on television.
“Responsibility” was my mother’s favorite word when I was growing up, but she
also had a favorite phrase that she repeated incessantly: “Work hard and be kind to
people.” Although this phrase seems fairly self-explanatory, I did not gain a full
understanding of it until I began my time working for SWAC. My boss, Therese
Hamilton, was one of the kindest and most generous human beings I had come to meet in
my time in Salisbury. Nonetheless, she was still the person I had to leave a good
impression on during my practicum. I would come to learn that, just like my mother, one
of Ms. Hamilton’s favorite words was “responsibility” as well.
Comparable to anything else in life, my internship had its fair share of successes
and failures. I like to think of myself as a realistic person, so I knew from the start that I
would not be a success at every assignment I was given. However, there are a few things
I accomplished at my internship that I like to think of as personal successes. The primary
accomplishment I consider a success is being able to plan and carry out aspects of a
public event. During my internship, I was given the responsibility of planning out certain
aspects of two separate events. This responsibility weighed on my shoulders, and if the
outcome was displeasing to my boss, I was the sole person responsible for taking the
blame. However, the aspects I planned for both events were successes. My boss asked me
to come up with craft ideas for kids to make at our booth during two different 3
rd
Friday
events, as well as creating something to draw adults in. Ms. Hamilton applauded my
effort after the first event and was pleased enough with my abilities that she gave me the
same responsibilities for the second event.
At the end of my internship, my boss asked me if I would like to contribute an
article or two to the quarterly magazine SWAC publishes as one of their membership
benefits called “Accent on the Arts.” I humbly accepted her offer, pleased to know that
she thought I was mature enough to handle the responsibility of writing a comprehensive
article to be published. I consider this to be another success during my internship. Writing
has always been a passion of mine, which is something Ms. Hamilton and I discussed
during my initial practicum interview. Knowing this, she gave me the opportunity to
express my passion on behalf of SWAC. This also gave me the opportunity to learn and
grow from her feedback as a writer herself.
Among these successes are also failures. Although the majority of my internship
went swimmingly, there were some aspects that could have been handled more
professionally on my part. I am, after all, still learning things about working in the
professional world, so I expected to make mistakes along the way. One of the things my
internship taught me was how your communication skills represent you as a professional.
There came a point during my internship where I fell out of contact with my practicum
supervisor and failed to recognize it. This lack of communication reflected
unprofessionally on me and luckily my supervisor had no issue in correcting me.
Constructive criticism is key in a learning environment, so I was more than happy to take
her suggestions and learn from my mistakes.
Working for a non-profit organization such as SWAC, I learned the value and
importance of a put-together appearance. I do not mean this as a personal physical
appearance, but more as the way the work you do appears. When working in a
professional setting, your work becomes a reflection of your professional self. In a non-
profit organization, the appearance of your work becomes even more important because
you are aiming to make a good and respectable impression on whomever your work will
be seen by. Ms. Hamilton made sure to stress the importance of clean and concise work
during my time at SWAC and was more than helpful in correcting my mistakes along the
way.
My time at SWAC was undoubtedly the greatest learning experience of my
academic career thus far. In both my successes and my failures, I learned that true
responsibility lies in the hard work and dedication you put forth in your work. Working
for SWAC helped me learn a few things about myself as a professional, as well as
teaching me many things about working in the real world. My summer internship taught
me a great deal about responsibility and its importance in the work place and, generally,
in life. My internship taught me how to effectively handle and carry out the
responsibilities given to me. Most importantly, my internship taught me that
“responsibility” is a word that will haunt me for the rest of my adult life. I look forward
to the future hauntings this word will bring me.