Expect the Unexpected: How My Internship Abroad Has Made Me More Flexible

Andie Parnell is a student at Texas A & M University and a  ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA in Stirling, Scotland.  

 

A streetview in Stirling.

Anyone who knows me knows that volunteering is a huge passion of mine- I have been an avid volunteer for charity organizations in the states since high school. So as a volunteer and a Sociology major, I was excited and interested to be interning abroad with a not-for-profit, charity organization. However, my placement with Stirling Citizens Advice Bureau proved to be far different than I expected. In the states we do not have an advice charity with the strength of the United Kingdom’s Citizens Advice Bureaus. At these advice hubs volunteers and staff give daily, free, expert, impartial advice to citizens for a wide range of issues such as government benefits, legal problems, housing, employment, immigration and more. With such a wide range of problems, where not one problem is the same, this charity organization is always busy at work. Throughout all of my previous volunteering experiences I had thought I understood the complexity that comes with keeping a charity organization afloat, but working abroad with a charity organization of this magnitude exceeded any expectations I had. From day one, I was thrown into the field as a shadow to advisors for clients in order to better understand the work and advice given at the bureau. This was all beneficial for my second week researching social policy from advice given at the bureau during the 2016, 2017 salary year in order to construct a case study, news release and fact sheet. I loved this task the most, mostly because of how applicable it was to my educational background. However, what I did not know before week two was that the bureau actually has several social policy researchers in order to bring the most constructive advice to the public from several outlets. The far reach of volunteer advisors, staff, specialists and researchers behind this charity organization was unbelievable.

For my third week in my placement, I began to see the backbone of the organization, the fundraising. As a volunteer I have always helped physically for charities and have yet to be a part of the fundraising sector.

 

The inside of the week long charity pop up shop.

July 24th-29th the Citizens Advice Bureau held a pop up shop that sold used items and raised awareness for the charity’s work within the community. At this shop I managed and promoted the charity, both of which I had never done before.

“Sweetie Tombola” as part of fundraising at the Stirling CAB pop up shop.

Sainsbury’s grocery store named Stirling Citizens Advice Bureau “Local Charity of the Year,” for which I sat in on an initial partnership meeting and helped fundraise in store my last week as an intern.

The Citizens Advice Bureau staff and volunteers alongside Sainsbury’s staff fundraising in store.

Before this internship abroad,I  had believed interning for an international charity would be similar to volunteering with charities in the states. But instead, interning with Stirling Citizens Advice Bureau exceeded my expectations by keeping me on my toes and teaching me the ins and outs of a charity organization through shadowing, researching, fundraising and corporation partnerships. Because of the magnitude of this bureau and my vast internship tasks, I was given immense experience as an intern abroad in Scotland.

The world awaits…discover it.

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