From intern to project co-ordinator - lessons from my internship journey

10 March 2020

In April 2019, I graduated with an MA in Conflict Management and Transformation from the Nelson Mandela University. I was so excited to graduate, however, that excitement ended soon after I received my degree as breaking into the working world was tougher than I expected as the transition from ‘studenting’ to ‘adulting’ was challenging and often demotivating. I guess the millennial in me thought it would be easy to find a job, however, I never thought about the millions of other graduates who also needed a job. I then realized that although I had a master’s degree, I still needed experience to thoroughly understand the working world and my career path. I changed my mindset and decided to treat the job-hunting process as an opportunity to learn and grow. I polished my CV, searched for opportunities in my industry, I kept my ear to the ground and took initiative to approach organizations directly (after all the job was not going to come to me, I had to find it).

I then embarked on a six-month internship program with Conflict Dynamics and what a highly productive and exciting journey it has been. Many graduates tend to think that an internship consists of making coffee, buying lunch and running errands, but that is not true and it shouldn’t be like that. An internship is a period of work experience that gives graduates exposure to the working environment by getting a feel for the industry that you are interning in by shaping one’s hard and soft skills.

The last six months have been an invaluable and rewarding experience for me. The skills I have learned have helped me to develop a practical understanding to complement the theoretical knowledge I have acquired at University. I have been exposed to the workplace culture which has given me insight into the workings of the Dispute Resolution industry by being involved in organising training events, attending training courses, meetings and presentations such as Employment Equity Training; Team Building Process; Conflict Management Skills Training; Sexual Harassment in the Workplace- Open Space event; Commercial Mediators Training; Initiating a Disciplinary Enquiry and Diversity and Inclusion Forum. As well as forming relations with highly skilled professionals and seeing first-hand what it takes to run a small business. My internship with Conflict Dynamics has definitely increased my interest and helped me in my decision to pursue a career in mediation.

I realize that I have acquired more than I could have imagined. This internship has served as a beneficial ending to my formal education and has given me a taste of the real world. My duties were diverse and ever-changing and as a result, I learned the following:

  • Newfound knowledge through fulfilling tasks, that sharpened my skills.
  • Working in a professional environment has taught me how to navigate through the working world through real-life hands-on experience by learning how to communicate with people professionally.
  • Always work hard no matter how small the task is, which has helped me to build a good work ethic.
  • Working independently has taught me to do things on my own and to make decisions and finally making connections and building professional relationships with people in the industry.

All it takes is one opportunity to unleash the potential of a young person and that is what Conflict Dynamics did for me. With over 6 million unemployed youth in our country, I am very grateful for the opportunity I have been given to be a part of the Conflict Dynamics team as the end result of my six-month internship is work experience, knowledge, and skills in a quality work environment as well as an improved young person.

Robin Monakali

POSTSCRIPT: Robin had proved to be an invaluable member of our team and we have employed her in the position of 'Project Co-ordinator'

- Robin Monakali