Tuesday: Originally was going to leave for Lancaster tonight, but oops… change of plans, I haven’t studied enough. I’m taking my last exam tomorrow at 8 AM; off to cram.
Wednesday: Finished my last final and head back to the apartment to pack for the summer. It’s kind of surreal that I only have one year left of college left. Six hours later I’m back in Lancaster after a long and boring drive, with no voice. (The only thing I could do to entertain myself was sing to Pandora on my iPhone, if only I had recorded a bit for the blog…!) I guess that drive was my summer break.
I’m also glad to see the interns again as well as several of the international students, but I’m exhausted from the drive so I don’t stick around to socialize too much. First day of work tomorrow!
Thursday: I arrive at work bright and early the next day, our work day starts at 8 AM. I get my own cubicle, which seems quite large. I think I need some decorations, maybe a big OSU poster. The first day of work includes a lot of setup, but it goes rather smoothly. I meet with the IT coordinator, whom actually works for another company but helps serve our non profit to setup my computer and the network. I still… however, cannot get my printer to work, maybe I’ll try it again tomorrow. After getting my system setup I meet with my supervisor to go over the day’s agenda and expectations. He also reviews the summer goal list that we discussed during the orientation. The day goes rather quickly as I have administrative accounting recording to do and various HOPE staff stop by to say hi and reintroduce themselves. The culture here is amazing; people are extremely friendly and seem to genuinely want to get to know me. Five o’clock rolls around too soon, so I decide to stick around an extra hour or two to finish my task. I figure the more quickly I can finish administrative work, I’ll be given more responsibility and have a chance to make an even better impact. My supervisor stays late usually as well, so I don’t think I’m stretching the norm too much. However, I think some people at the office may be getting the idea I’m a workaholic, so I don’t stick around too long. This isn’t a culture that values face time.
I get home too late for dinner; our housing provides a communal dinner every evening but seems to serve it around 5 or 5:30… so I have to run to get some food. Well, that’s more incentive not to stay late! Off to finish unpacking… I think I brought too much stuff.
Friday: Interns are not usually required to work on Fridays unless a project has a pressing deadline. (The firm does this because we are not paid this summer besides most of our expenses being covered. They try to allow us time to find an alternative source of income to work on Fridays. I don’t think I’ll be working anywhere else, but who knows, maybe I will.) I head into work since I missed most of the work week, and feel guilty for coming in a day later than expected. It becomes a very productive day as most of the interns are not there and it’s easy to focus on work rather than take a break and socialize. I finish up some smaller duty tasks and leave a bit earlier than 5.
After work several of the interns and staff went downtown for First Friday which is similar to First Saturday gallery hop in Columbus. One of the staff took us to a pottery exhibit where we unsuccessfully tried to create our own jars… but it was still a great time and we were also able to witness some glass blowing.
Over the weekend several of the interns decide to head down to Baltimore which is less than an hour away. We visit the inner harbor for the day and grab some seafood. It’s nice how close we are to so many different cities. I feel like I’m bonding rather well with the other interns, can’t wait to see what else is on the travelling agenda!
Learning points: For those looking to learn about best practices during your internship, I will be posting a few points each week so that hopefully you will know what to do in your internship next year.
- Seeking help from your supervisor: Whenever you have an issue with a project or task and you need immediate help from your supervisor, try hard to do it first on your own. Managers like that you show effort and if you can figure it out then it shows your determination. However, do know that there is a certain point at which it is better to ask your supervisor for help, the term is coined as “spinning your wheels.” Every instance will be defined by an appropriate time, but there is always the possibility of asking other interns or co-workers before reaching out to your supervisor. (Note: your supervisor’s job is not to only help you, and often times have much more pressing deadlines, so be patient and try to seek help only once or twice a day at most. Write your questions on a pad and try and touch base with them daily so your questions are consolidated)
- Ask for deadlines when assigned a task: This will help you prioritize your work, hopefully setting a schedule of what needs to be finished when. I feel like many people make this mistake thinking a large project will set the highest priority, but often times small things may have deadlines prior in which case need to be finished first. If there is no set deadline, you will have to use your best judgment, but again don’t spin your wheels on something that has no immediate tangible results, unless you have no other deliverables.
Microfinance points: Last week I discussed several key points about why poverty is like an endless cycle in third world countries. This week I will discuss several ways these issues are solved by MFIs.
- High interest rates: MFIs allow clients to have lower than market interest rates due to a transfer of liquidity between a developed country and the third world country. Most MFIs can achieve this for two reasons: (I) The MFI finds its financing from a developed country where the MFI usually is created or the founder has connections from (II) MFIs are established institutions created to give microloans, in other words it is their business model. Most local loan based are designed more for small business loans and feed off no competition towards microloans thus can charge exorbitant interest rates. They do not have the infrastructure to serve microlending and do not wish to either.
- Savings: MFIs do not have the infrastructure or want the infrastructure to becoming a savings and deposit institution for lenders. Instead many MFIs including HOPE, teach clients how to create savings and credit associations. (I will refer to them as SCAs.) These act much like credit unions. In essence the MFis teach the clients the importance of savings and the controls needed to start one of these groups. The idea is each of these groups will designate a different person each week to collect an allotted savings portion from each of the groups’ members. This way money is dispersed throughout the group and is harder to access (use or lose). In addition the group can loan out these funds to their members at specified rates. (The lower the rate, the cheaper it is to borrow, but likewise the higher the rate, the more their funds grow.) This gives the clients much more access to capital as well as the ability to efficiently save money on a small scale.