Interview with intern Bailey

Our lovely intern Bailey Miller from Idaho works for Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town a nonprofit organization that assists and Supports refugees, asylum seekers migrants rights and integration into South Africa, based in Cape Town. They offer various social services such as a Women’s Platform, an English School, Paralegal and Advocacy services as well as Employment Access support and development. For a long time, they have been working with volunteers from all over the world. Bailey is one of them; she’s doing Roots’ employment access and skills development internship. Roots’ marketing and communication intern Saida caught up with Bailey to learn about the project, her impact at the organization, her personal experience, and the challenges she faced during her work at the center. “Everyday is different, there are new people who I interact with every day – that’s what makes it so special”, Bailey says.

Find information about Bailey’s internship here.

What does an employment access internship actually entail?

“At the Employment Access Programme,  the center supports foreign nationals to find jobs in South Africa. Those are mainly refugees and migrants, largely from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Burundi and Somalia as well as South Africans. They hugely range in age and background. From youth to those in their forties but there are also a lot of families with young kids. The tasks that the employment access internship contains are mainly: interacting with clients and creating CV’s, applying for jobs, facilitating training in skills that are necessary to find employment, encouraging a proactive approach and ensuring knowledge of rights and responsibilities. The programme also provides job readiness workshops which entail interview and presentation skills as well as Digital Literacy, MS Word and Excel training.”

Employment access in internship

In which tasks are you involved?

“People who are looking for employment in South Africa usually come to the centre to start that process. My main and everyday tasks are writing and editing CV’s; assisting with job applications and checking people’s employability. Most of our clients look for entry level jobs, for example at restaurants, coffee shops, in housekeeping or child’s care, construction work and so on. I would help them find a suitable job in the register and help apply for it: all these job providers vary in organization type and purpose. All of them are located in the Cape Town area. Sometimes I even find potential employers by contacting businesses that I believe are suitable. Moreover, I am also involved in the computer literacy workshop about basic computer skills as well as sector specific training.”

What does a typical day look like for you?

“There are new people and events everyday! That means there really is no typical day. It’s very exciting – no day is like the other and that’s what makes it so interesting. Despite, I could explain a typical Monday; Monday’s are busy. New people come into the help desk in the morning for CV writing assistance. It’s quite hectic because everyone can just walk in without appointment. But that’s no big deal, it really gives me a feeling of success at the end of the day. I can help people and get a lot of work done in one day. I am getting the feeling of being needed and that’s so beautiful.”

Look up six other internships that Roots offers with this organization.

That sounds great. What is your favorite part of your internship?

“Exactly that: The feeling of knowing that my work here has an actual impact. Giving gives one so much more than taking. The biggest fulfillment is to know that someone found a job and can stay in the country, because I found a placement for them and guided them along the way. Moreover, the team at work and the vibe in the center made my internship so enjoyable: Everyone is nice and treats everybody with respect.”

Did you encounter emotionally draining situations?

“Actually, yes.  I must say that in general it’s hard to see people leave their homes. A lot of people travel far to come to the center and many are hungry. It’s not easy at all.”

What was the biggest challenge you faced?

“Besides the emotional moments, definitely the language barrier. Even though many speak English, I don’t always understand them because our accents are so different. The same happens the other way around: often they don’t understand me. But I think I have improved over time; one the one hand, I can now speak in a way that people understand me and on the other hand understanding different accents is a lot easier for me. It’s so interesting and eye-opening.”

What did you learn during your internship?

“I can think of a very funny thing: When I started my internship I didn’t even know what a CV was! We call them ‘Resume’ in the US. Further, I never knew that CV’s or Resumes can range so much from country to country. Here in South Africa, they are a lot longer! In general, I’ve learned a lot about the South African and the different African schools and education systems by learning about our client’s academic past. My Roots internship has improved not only my writing and other communication skills, but also understanding different accents. I have more knowledge about Africa and its different school system, culture and basic knowledge and migration on the continent.”

How has your internship contributed to your personal development?

“On a more personal level, I’ve learned how important safety is, for example having a secured job! I am not taking things for granted anymore. I learned to appreciate that I most likely will never have to run from home to a place that is far from home where people speak another language. Now I know for sure that I want to become an immigration lawyer for Mexicans in the US. In my internship I have learned that I am very patient and that I should use that skill in a job that helps people. I am so grateful!”

Thank you Bailey! All the best for the future. You will be an amazing immigration lawyer, that’s for sure!

“Thank you!”

Interested in reading about more intern experiences? We interviewed our past advocacy and human rights intern Emiel from Belgium, too! Have a look at the interview about his experience here.