Idiosyncrasy Credit as an Intern

I really was not sure what to expect at the start of my internship.  Before this experience, I had really only thought of an internship in the stereotypical way where the intern just does coffee runs for their superiors all day.  I figured my internship would be different since it was at a nonprofit nestled in residential Richmond. I did not think I would be racing all over the city to get my supervisor’s lunch, but I still did not think I would end up contributing that much to the events that were being planned and the organization as a whole.  My first couple days were filled with various research projects, they all had to do with helping the events but I still couldn’t help but feel that it was just busy-work and that all of the work I was doing had already been done before. As time went on, I realized more and more that I was actually being given responsibilities that needed to be done and done well.  As I noted in my last post, I am almost entirely in charge of tracking donation follow-ups which is incredibly important to a nonprofit because it means stewarding and keeping large donors.  

I was surprised at the amount of trust my supervisor had in me to give me an assignment and assume that I could follow through without very much guidance.  For example, she taught me what I needed to write in the handwritten Thank Yous to donors, but after that, she never double checked that I had written the right thing, addressed the donor appropriately, or found the correct address; she just showed me where the stamps were and had me send them out.  I, for one, am very particular about projects and events that we do through Camp Kesem, and I am always stressed that something will go wrong and we will lose money because of it, so it has been hard for me to understand her slightly more hands-off approach. I realized the difference recently and it is idiosyncrasy credit.  

Those who volunteer for Camp Kesem do not have much idiosyncrasy credit.  Aside from the fact that they are willing to help out a nonprofit, I do not know much about them as a Coordinator.  This is the case with my fellow Coordinators too since only the directors really know everybody’s qualifications unless we have worked together in the past.  The lack of credit leads to a lot closer supervision and being more vigilant with projects to make sure they are seen through. It is not that I do not trust others to carry out assignments, it is that I have no prior experience with working with them, so I do not have very much assurance that they will.  On the other hand, I submitted a resume to RMHC Richmond, my supervisor read it over and personally interviewed me about its contents and my application. She has a much better understanding of what I have done and what I can do, so that awards me idiosyncrasy credit. This credit gives me more flexibility in my job, instead of having her direct me with exact instructions, I can do more based on how I think something should be done, which is really refreshing.  

It is great knowing that I have this credit to use at my disposal, it gives me much more control over my position and more of a voice at the organization than I expected.  I can express concerns, such as the problems with organization that I mentioned in my last post, and I can feel comfortable that I am not out of place in doing so and that my suggestions may actually be implemented.    

One thought on “Idiosyncrasy Credit as an Intern

  • Interesting insights about the differences between your internship and Camp Kesem. Of course, idiosyncrasy credit is not just about formal interviews and resumes, it’s about building up credit over time by conforming to a group’s expectations/norms. And idiosyncrasy credit is really the thing that enables one to deviate from group expectations (once enough IC is built up). I do think there is something to your volunteer (Camp Kesem) versus hired position (RMHC – even if it is or is not paid) comparison, but I think it has more to do with the formality (or lack there of) of each. For the fall paper, you need to deep dive into a theory of choice, exploring all the elements and providing examples from your internship that illustrate (or do not illustrate) those various elements. If you want to dive into IC for the fall paper, I encourage you to reflect more on the theory, identify other examples, etc.

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