We have been blessed to have Perry Dubow as a summer intern from Ravenscroft. Below is the essay she wrote on her time here at TFS. It is a wonderfully written snapshot of her experiences and observations.
Perry, we will miss you! Good luck on your senior year and don’t forget to come back and visit!
When I first heard that I would be spending my summer interning for Triangle Family Services, I was beyond excited, but also quite a bit terrified. I knew that working in this environment would be the chance of a lifetime, but all of the workplace knowledge I possessed at the time came from reading Dilbert comics in the Sunday papers and watching Darren trek back and forth from work on old Bewitched reruns. I was confident that I would leave my intern position at the end of six weeks with intimate knowledge of the non-profit world, but I was also convinced that I was going to be spending my summer sitting, copying, and typing away silently in a cubicle. Oh how wrong I was. Reflecting back on my summer internship, I see that I have not only gained work-place experience, but I have also forged priceless friendships, and witnessed how one office full of dedicated people really can change lives.
Early on the morning of June 6th, my GPS informed me that I had reached my destination at 700 Blue Ridge Road. As I looked out the car window at the Triangle Family Services logo, attached to a squat brick building, the entire office complex seemed to grow before my eyes until it was positively looming over me. Shaking like a leaf, I straightened my new office attire and squared my shoulders, intent on making the best first impression that was humanly possible. I smiled through all of my introductions wondering to myself how I would ever learn to fit in with such busy, hard-working people. That first week of work was a whirlwind of new experiences as I learned my way around the mental health, emergency housing, consumer credit counseling, and supervised visitation branches of the agency. I did everything from memorizing acronyms such as MPP (Mortgage Payment Program), NCHFA (North Carolina Housing Finance Agency), and DMP (Debt Management Plan) to breaking the printer for the very first time. Before I knew it I could tell clients all of the steps involved in applying for an MPP loan, and I had entered into a full blown love-hate relationship with the office’s printer and scanner. I spent my days copying, filing, answering phones, and scanning applications onto the agency’s main server. I was finally learning the ropes around the office and beginning to grow accustomed to going home each evening knowing I had accomplished something meaningful that day.
It was sometime around the second week of my internship that I began to feel comfortable enough to venture out of my office on the rare occasion and get to know the people I was working alongside. As I came out of my shell around my colleagues, they did the same with me. I bonded with Sharon over her undying passion for chocolate, deciphered mystifying voicemail messages with Keisha, laughed at Daniel’s relentless, teasing humor, and talked about the best places to shop with Tiffany. As I grew closer to the people I worked with, I learned how their unique gifts and personalities made them each excellent at their respective jobs. I will never cease to be amazed at how Harriett, Julie, Rebecca, Jen, Alice, Joe, Alison, Tavenia and Susan can put a smile on and help even the most negative and ornery clients through financial troubles with an unwavering dedication unlike any I have ever seen. Despite friendly jokes aimed at Chris, and the occasional groan when Nellie pointed to a mountain of emergency housing paperwork that needed to be properly filed, I loved each and every second of my job.
If I had to pick just one lesson out of the countless ones that I learned from my internship this summer, it would be that attitude changes everything. Working in a non-profit can be a demanding and thankless job, even one that frequently extends way past the boundaries of a typical forty-hour work week. However, every single person that works in this office shows up each day with a positive attitude and a passion for bettering their community that never ceases to astound me. Meaningful thank-you’s from clients are few and far-between, but when someone tells one of my colleagues how much the work they do means, I can see the difference that it makes. As I look forward to my upcoming senior year and even further ahead to a career, I can only pray that I get an opportunity to make half the difference that I see my new friends and co-workers making here at Triangle Family Services. As my summer winds to a close along with my position, I have already begun to miss everyone that I work with. However, I know that I will stay in touch and volunteer whenever possible. It’s been a true blessing to spend my summer at Triangle Family Services. The nervous anticipation I approached work with that fateful first day has transformed into immense appreciation for the opportunity of a lifetime.