Reflecting on a Summer of NGO Work

Albena Ruseva, COL ’24, Sofia, Bulgaria

This past summer, I had the rare opportunity to intern at “Center for Humane Policy”, a non-governmental organization, whose main goal is to assist active drug and alcohol users in their day to day lives. The Center is aimed at physically reducing the harms of drugs by providing hygienic materials, meals and drinks, a washing machine and supplies, and emotionally by providing supportive communication and, if the clients choose to, consultations with psychotherapists, psychiatrists, and lawyers.

With the help of this funding, I was able to provide assistance to over 190 clients who visited the center all while getting in close contact with populations that are otherwise concealed to the public. I not only expanded my knowledge on substance abuse but I also understood first-hand the ways in which a government can help or hinder such a population.

During those 10 weeks, I served as a primary liaison for clients to turn to in need of career support or governmental assistance, be it Social Services or The National Revenue Agency. The former usually consisted of assisting the clients in creating their first CV and in applying for jobs suited to their needs and physical capabilities. Additionally, a crucial part of my duties was to refer potential clients to treatment centers and to provide the necessary support to the clients who chose not to pursue treatment.

Another aspect of my experience that I really enjoyed was creating an initiative to battle disinformation about addiction and substance use. The team and I planned a fundraising photography exhibition, illustrating the various difficulties and obstacles people with addiction face in their quotidian lives, raising money that covered the Center’s expenses for months ahead.

As a junior majoring in Psychology, this work gave me the opportunity to delve deeper through fieldwork and direct involvement with the people I had only thus far studied from afar. With the help of Career Services, I was able to explore my interests as well as form relationships with major people in the field. The hands-on experience I gained through this funding aligned both with my scientific interests and future career goals and I am immensely grateful to have had the opportunity to intern at “Center for Humane Policy” this past summer.

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2022 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

By Career Services
Career Services