December 13th 2017 at 6:23 am
Britt Liebeck is always seeking new experiences and trying to see the world from difference perspectives.
The Strategic Communications Masters student applied for a McCusker Centre for Citizenship at UWA Internship as she believed it could help her do both – while simultaneously giving her a chance to actively contribute to the community.
“I hadn’t worked in a not-for-profit before and I was eager to experience the dynamics of those organisations and see how I could apply my skills,” Britt says. “I’m a hands-on, practical learner and believe in seizing every opportunity to gain credit for my degree outside the classroom.
“An internship with the McCusker Centre for Citizenship seemed like an exciting and meaningful way to do this.”
Originally, Britt had her sights set on an entirely different internship, but she soon realised how perfect the role of story gatherer/journalist with UnitingCare West was for her. Britt visited UnitingCare West centres and interviewed staff and clients so she could tell their stories. She also used her storytelling skills to redesign to organisation’s annual report, “placing a focus on the photos, quotes and stories of the people the organisation serves”.
“Although I have always had the interpersonal skills to start up conversations and make connections with ease, I was interviewing people who I couldn’t possibly understand what they had been through or relate to their circumstances,” Britt says.
“I worked hard to build trust and rapport so that people felt comfortable talking to me, which was an important.”
Britt’s internship has shown her a new side of the community she didn’t realise existed, and her biggest challenge was learning how to deal with her own emotions after hearing – sometimes shocking – stories.
“I felt like my whole life had been spent living in a bubble, I was so protected from the myriad of issues people in the Perth community face every day,” Britt says.
“Nothing could have quite prepared me for the people I would meet, the vulnerability they would show me and the stories I would hear".
“These stories taught me so much about homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, violence and countless other issues experienced by the most marginalised people in our society. It was confronting and so emotionally draining yet they deserved every inch of my attention, compassion and respect.
“I cannot possibly convey how honoured and privileged I felt that people wanted to share their stories with me, but my biggest challenge was learning how to internally process such difficult information.”
Here are Britt’s top 5 reasons YOU should do a McCusker Centre for Citizenship Internship:
Do you want to expand your knowledge of how to benefit people in the community via an important organisation like Britt did? Apply for a McCusker Centre for Citizenship Internship for Semester 1 here