The Transition: A Reflection On A 3-Months-Long Internship At the Somali Public Agenda

Reflections From Our Team

The transition period – or as I like to call it, the portal you go through to your other destination in every sector –was for me transitioning from the study & learning field to the more practical field of work. It was my main concern and where I put most of my thinking and planning in the last semester of university. As a proactive person, I like to plan and think ahead before I encounter any situation in my life. I focused on having a smooth transition period that prepare me for the next destination on my life journey.

While I was in that state, a friend of mine – Abdirahman Osman –  who also was a student at Mogadishu University informed me about a three-month internship program that he completed at the Somali Public Agenda (SPA) – a non-profit think and action tank that aims to advance understanding and improvement of public administration and public services in Somalia through evidence-based research and analysis. As a student majoring in the field of Public Administration at Mogadishu University, that sounded like what I was searching for and suited me well because of the limited chances the newly graduated students face in finding the chance to put what they have studied into practice.

Earlier this year, and exactly at the end of January 2022, I had the opportunity to meet and sit down with the executive director of Somali Public Agenda, Mahad Wasuge, who also was a lecturer for me at Mogadishu University. In that meeting, I discussed with him my intentions and plans after my graduation later this year. Also, I asked him about the possibility of me taking on the internship program they offer. Fortunately, he embraced it and told me that I would get the internship, but to wait until July when two other university had graduates completed theirs. This timeline coincided with the completion of my study at the university.

Fast forward, and precisely to the end of June, I received a call from the SPA’s HR officer and researcher Farhia Mohamoud, informing me that I would commence my internship on July the 3rd and that I have to come a day earlier and participate in SPA’s monthly meet-up called ‘Gaxwo & Gorfeyn’, which is their off-the-record monthly discussions on the main political and social issues of the month. It was my second time attending the monthly meetup; the first time I attended was in November 2021.

The next day, I began my internship, and as is customary at SPA, everyone who joins gets a tour of the office and gets to know the team, as well as the different SPA centers. At that time, most of the team was on field trips. Fortunately, I knew some of them since they used to be lecturers for me at the university. Aside from that, Farhia gave me the tour and introduced me to the rest of the team as well as the various centers, providing brief information on each center’s activities. The team received me pleasantly and with a positive attitude. Later, I was told what work I was meant to undertake and my responsibilities.

At the beginning of my internship, I was given access to various online courses that were chosen and designed to provide me with the necessary information and skills to assist me in the activities I would be performing. Those online courses included research methodology learning, academic writing skills, and email writing courses.

Luckily, my internship coincided with SPA’s Blog Writing Course, a practical and professional course that the SPA Center for Learning and Development offers twice a year – January and July. The training lasted one month, and we were meant to write one blog post every week for four weeks. During the training, we met with four mentors, each of whom shared his expertise and offered advice. Mahad Wasuge and Hassan Guled, SPA Communications Officer and Researcher, were the primary mentors. They gave us lectures and reviewed our work.

There were three tasks I used to do every week during my internship. These were taking the minutes of both the weekly team meeting & the research meeting, media monitoring, and arranging and organizing the library and its catalog when new books arrived. Also, I used to take part in co-organizing the monthly forums with the team, which were convened twice a month during my internship period.

Besides the weekly responsibilities, there were other tasks I participated in and contributed to. One of these was a commentary I contributed to and co-wrote with Mohamed Adam, the coordinator of the Public Agenda Forum, and Naima Ahmed a Research Assistant. One of the main projects I contributed to was a research project on durable solutions. I participated in the data collection process in the Afgoi district and conducted interviews and focus groups with the research team I was working with. After the completion of the data collection, I transcribed several interviews and focus groups. Lastly, I learned about data coding in a session that Mahad Wasuge provided to some of the research team. Moreover, I participated in the coding process of the data collected with the research team.

In addition to all the experience and knowledge, I expanded my network during my internship. On August 14th, SPA hosted the first Annual Internship Alumni gathering. I had the opportunity to meet with the graduates of the SPA Internship Programme. Everyone introduced themselves and shared their internship experiences as well as what they were working on. I had a great time and was able to connect with a fantastic group of bright young people. I am looking forward to the future annual internship gatherings. Moreover, I was able to get to know the participants of the SPA forums as well as the visitors, which expanded my network.

Looking back, these 3 months made me appreciate the opportunity I have got and how it helped me a lot in learning and adapting to the field of work. My internship was a mix of working and learning period.

Besides all of that, the working environment was great as I never had to struggle or feel the need to adjust to the team; they were friendly, supportive, and welcoming colleagues. The professionalism at SPA that I experienced was simply immaculate. The sense of belonging you feel that comes with it makes SPA a great place to flourish, thrive, and improve. During my internship, I learned a lot, gained new experiences, and met new people, and my network improved as a result of the internship opportunity.

Finally, I want to thank and express my gratitude to all of the SPA team for this chance and the experience they offered me. Not everyone gets the chance to learn and work, especially in Somalia. This kind of opportunity is next to non-existent. I hope others will benefit from this program, which is a golden opportunity for learning, experience, and networking.

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