May 5, 2011

INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCE After completing my first degree in Philosophy, I have incessantly questioned and reflected on the tangible role of philosophy in the new corporate world order. At the time of my undergraduate studies, it was easy to jump onto the ‘bandwagon’ of philosophy students who have always prided themselves in the notion that they represented the greatest “think tanks” for designing creative policies, identifying lapses in judgment and probing codes of behavior. Yet, I felt empty after my university education. The road map that led me onto this academic journey appeared to be a dead end. My accounting, marketing and medical student colleagues could pin-point their relevance in concrete terms, such as balance sheets, advertising and surgery in any organization. I thought Philosophy as a discipline did not offer comparable opportunities in that regard until I interned for six months in a non-governmental organization, West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). An intern is a student-worker who is given an opportunity to understudy corporate values, norms, practices and cultures to complement his / her academic pursuits. During my internship, I worked as part of a data collection team of which we were tasked with collecting data on all Civil Society Organizations for an e-directory across Ghana. These research and corporate experiences offered me practical insights into how things are done on the field, within departments and the chain of command that existed within the Institute. Largely, the internship illuminated my understanding on certain facilitation, leadership and communication skills I learned during my university days. As a field research officer, I gained experience in the following three thematic areas;  Leadership: As part of a two-man data collection team, I observed that in order to lead people, I should be able to first spell out the objectives of any task or project we are to execute to my team members. Secondly, I noticed that every one’s opinion counts no matter how small or irrelevant, people want to be heard. Whenever they feel involved in decision-making, they are stimulated to think for better solutions to a problem. However, when they are not encouraged to contribute to the task, they shut out their creative ideas completely. This apathy to share and contribute ideas to any group work undermines the performance and the end results of the team.  Communication and Reporting: There were instances where the team had to persuade people to fill the questionnaires that were sent out to collect data on Civil Society Organizations. One of the key successful factors that encouraged the directors of organizations to co-operate with us was our ability to explain some of the benefits they stand to gain when the e-directory becomes operational. I realized that people are usually interested in how things benefit them and how sustainable those things are. The team promised to give periodic reports on the progress of the e-directory as well as the
Internship Experience, Harrison Boakye Owusu.

May 5, 2011

date of launching of the project. As a result of my work experience with the Institute, I now appreciate “Reporting” as very crucial to any productive endeavor between and amongst parties since it builds future relationships, mutual trust and respect.  Time Management Skills: I learned the lesson, “Time is a luxury you can’t afford to have” in WACSI. In plain language it means you prioritize, organize and get things done within the shortest possible time. The achievement of this skill was made possible by the frequent pressures that emanate from my immediate boss when work assignments delay. Personally, I believe that “brevity” and “clarity” are the two essential ingredients that count in Time Management. These personal skills have built my self-confidence and self-drive to get things done within very limited deadlines. I believe WACSI is an institute where any young person seeking to build a career and develop professional work ethic can begin. In conclusion, before i interned at WACSI, I had personal expectations of my ideal working environment and certain relevant professional work ethics that can help me excel in my career. I also wanted to know the relevance of Philosophy in modern corporate world. My expectations were exceeded. WACSI offered me an outstanding support in that regard. I believe the Institute has helped me build a firm foundation for my career and my commitment to pursue further studies in future, both immediate and distant.

Internship Experience, Harrison Boakye Owusu.

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