My Internship at SPA: A Reflection

Days are passing so quickly, but the timing, the place, and the colleagues can be the difference makers. I was fortunate that these factors have sided with me and made my one-month internship at the Somali Public Agenda one of the most memorable and cheeriest months in my academic and career journey. As a young undergraduate student, who needed a place for training and internship, I found Somali Public Agenda (SPA) to be the best option.

Four days before I started my internship, I met with the SPA Executive Director. He warmly welcomed me and informed me to begin my internship on Thursday, the 1st October, 2020. I could not imagine everything will work out in the first meeting without further discussion or preconditions, and I will be given this opportunity to start my internship so soon. The remaining three days were like three years, until the long awaited Thursday came. On that day, I was a complete stranger going into a new place.

When I arrived at the office, again the Executive Director welcomed me. He introduced me to some staff members who were in the office at that time. The next day, I was officially introduced to the staff members in the weekly meeting. Very soon, I felt part of the great team, and we started sharing many things – experiences, stories, and activities. My feeling that day still echoes in my heart, and I am very grateful to their kindness and openness.

In addition to that, since SPA is a public policy and administration research organization, I was assigned to perform various activities and duties, which are related to the research. The activities that I got the opportunity working on during my internship period included: writing minutes of the weekly staff meetings, conducting interviews, transcribing and translating the interviews, doing secondary research, and organizing events among others.

It was only my second day at SPA when I started writing minutes of the weekly staff meetings. One week later, I started contributing to a commentary on the Hirshabelle election conundrum. The commentary was published on 10th October, 2020. Moreover, I have worked on an ongoing study that examines the use of drugs – especially among the youth – in Mogadishu. I conducted nearly 20 interviews, and transcribed and translated them.

During my internship period, I faced plenty of challenges, which were related to my work. As a newcomer whose duties included writing the weekly staff meetings minutes, I found myself in uninformed position since many of the discussed projects in the meetings were ongoing and had started before I joined SPA. The team were mainly giving few updates on ongoing activities. Furthermore, I was lacking the courage to request interviews from informants. Most people are not predictable, and I was hesitant if they will accept me to interview them. The difficult part of the interviews was that many people were not willing to be interviewed due to the nature of the study I was working on. One time, I waited for someone for about one hour, and he disappeared when the time for the interview came.

However, I overcame most of the challenges I encountered through diligence, flexibility, and most importantly the assistance and the guide of my colleagues at the SPA. In fact, I used to ask for their support whenever I encountered a challenge. The SPA team were fundamental to my internship success, and I am very grateful to them for everything they did for me. My special thanks goes to the SPA Executive Director Mahad Wasuge for his humble, fearless, and continuous support during my internship. Also, I will not forget the clarity, openness, and the honest speaking of my office-mate, Mr. Farhan Isak. With their support, I became brave enough to overcome many challenges.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “For everything you have missed, you have gained something else”. I faced many challenges, but they taught me much more than they hurt me. During my internship period, I have acquired experiences and developed skills. One of the things that made SPA an exceptional place for my internship is the passion that I have for research and research centers. I have developed important skills such as writing, conducting interviews, and organizing events.

On the other hand, as a student who is in the middle of writing his thesis, it was an extra advantage and experience that I could conduct interviews for SPA’s ongoing study. Conducting interviews is the research method of my Capstone Project. Moreover, the workplace and work related skills that I have learned from SPA will be an asset for my future career.

Even though my internship period was one month, I have accumulated a lot of  experience, and have developed many skills. Due to the unique ideals of SPA, I was greatly affected by their principles, professionalism and hard work, and my presumptions about workplaces have changed considerably. Their efforts and valuable inputs on me will not vanish easily, and they will last forever.

Keep up the good work, SPA!

Mohamed Abdirahman

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