After seven weeks at my internship here in Paris at the French non-governmental organization Le Mouvement de la Paix (the peace movement), I’ve started reflecting a lot on what this experience has taught me about myself. Of course I have made leaps and bounds with my French, learning international relations jargon and French workplace cultural cues, but it has also taught me a lot about how I work in an office all day long, for 35 hours a week.
As a person, I am very outgoing and love talking, quite honestly sometimes to a point of fault. Meeting new people is very exciting for me and as such I love a dynamic workplace where I have the opportunity to meet new people on a regular basis. Here at my NGO in Paris, I love my coworkers, however sometimes it is a little quiet in the office with little to no movement in and out of the front door throughout the day, except for the daily visit from the mailman. My lunchtime meals with my coworkers have been extremely productive in improving my French and chatting away, but I miss the novelty and opportunity of getting to know new people and figure out their story.
I have also discovered that while I love computers, phones and technology, sitting at a computer desk all day is not a future I could envision myself doing. Typing away all day and doing research is interesting, but it takes a toll on my mentality, which is always in the process of wanting to run. Thus, I spend the majority of the day fidgeting and finding excuses to get up and walk around, such as drinking copious amounts of water in order to have the excuse of refilling my water bottle every 45 minutes. However, I know this is not something that is a reflection of the French workplace, but more simply a personality trait that I carry with me wherever I go.
I have of course learned a lot more about how NGOs work, especially given that my internship was intensive and put me directly into the running of the NGO instead of acting as a secretary, which happens in many internships in the United States. I’ve learned that communication, especially through social media, is incredibly important for achieving goals in NGOs. Public support drives the organization to raise money, raise awareness and actually have an impact in their domain. Considering Le Mouvement de la Paix is a political NGO, they use social media to educate voters about candidates and their stances on various issues such as immigration, the military and the European Union. This is extremely important considering that next week is the first round of the French presidential election.
I am also very excited for this month’s release of the organization’s monthly magazine, “Planète Paix,” because one of my articles will be featured inside. While my French was edited and touched up to meet quality standards, the essence of my ideas and writing will be there, an exciting moment as a college student. It is amazing that my first published piece in an organization’s publication is in French. This publication is an amazing way to end my experience here at Le Mouvement de La Paix because it serves as proof of all of the work I have done these last seven weeks in research.
Overall, as my internship comes to a close, I have definitely learned a lot about how NGOs work as well as how I work. This experience will definitely play a driving role in how I plan what I do my senior year and beyond. But for now, I am going to take advantage of the rest of my time at my internship and in Paris itself.