My first week at MDI was filled with diversified tasks and for three months, I did not feel like I was always doing the same things. The best thing about this internship is that I have learned and practice most of the knowledge and skills acquired during my MA courses, not only in the fields of communications and media but also day-to-day office activities.
I started by helping out with general administrative tasks. I learned to be very organised and thorough. When filling out different papers or forms, the slightest mistake can have many consequences. That is why double-checking became a golden rule, even when I had to scan a simple document. For example, I had to help certain details in a financial report to be submitted to one of our donors. I had to compare a set of expenditure lists with all the attached documents: check if the correct amount was indicated, if the proof of payment was enclosed and if something was missing or was incorrect. Another general administrative task was to update the staff board in the office and inform everyone by email about everyone’s availability and calendar.
I often helped with logistics for different projects and events. I was sometimes helping with flight or hotel bookings but I often needed to contact different people in other countries. This is where my interpersonal and intercultural communication skills came in handy. I sometimes had to find compromises and find the best way to suit both sides when it came to organising an event, for example. Setting up meetings with very busy partners is quite challenging so I had to find ways to respect both MDI’s and our partners’ needs and requests.
From the first week, I was involved in a project called “Inclusive Media for an Inclusive Society” in Algeria. This project is about building the presence of youth and marginalised voices in Algeria. At first, I had to read the project summary and understand the process of identifying the project’s stakeholders. Then, I needed to write a summary of this project in order to send it to all of the important stakeholders to inform them about the activities. Later on, this summary helped me write a draft about the project for our website.
I was also happy to help with logistics: our priority was to contact the partners of this project before a meeting in Algiers. Our partners are key stakeholders as they were the ones to help the project be effective. They also help us get in touch with the right people.
My job was to get in touch with these partners, update them on the upcoming project activities and set up a meeting involving them and my colleagues. These meetings were very important because the project’s further development depended on them.
At the same time, we needed to recruit a local Project Coordinator. I got in touch with the selected candidates to set up interview slots with each of them while my colleagues were staying in Algiers. Apart from logistics, I also helped with information research on the Algerian media and current events linked to our project in Algeria. This helped my colleagues have an overview of important events, which had been relevant to discuss during their meetings with the project’s partners.
Then, my internship supervisor entrusted me with a challenging task. Their stay in Algiers was rather short and in order to make the recruitment phase more efficient, I needed to contact each candidate’s referee, ask them more thorough questions about the candidates and their experience and fill in a reference form. Once I filled in these forms, I sent them to my colleagues and this helped them make a final choice and make sure they hire the best candidate for the job. Everything went smoothly and I was very glad to have helped for all of that.
Another project I assisted is called “Fighting discrimination in Russia through tolerant and inclusive reporting”, which focused on helping promote freedom of speech and equality in Russian society. I mainly helped with logistics for this project and assisted to the recruitment of our new Project Manager. We had scheduled a couple of interviews and my colleagues suggested to join them and observe the whole procedure. This was definitely a useful exercise for me because it allowed me to think about everything that I have learned in my Human Resources courses.
Even if I was just observing, it was very interesting to see what is going on behind the scenes of recruitment and to see what the interviewers are looking for in a candidate. I took a lot of notes to help me remember the types of questions, my impressions and other comments. After those interviews, my colleagues and I had a debriefing in order to exchange ideas and opinions. They also listened to my own point of view and I thanked them for giving me this opportunity. Since I was getting familiar with the project, I also wrote a draft about it for the website.
While performing logistics and administrative tasks, I also helped out my colleagues with different types of research. MDI’s manager travels a lot to different countries for different events. She is often invited as an expert speaker to conferences related to media and diversity. Therefore, I was happy to help do some research on different issues, current events, other organisations or institutions and anything related to MDI’s fields of activity.
Browsing through different websites allowed me to become more familiar with organisations I had not heard of before and I gained a lot of general knowledge. I also helped another colleague with research related to EU policies and media standards, for instance, and helped get in touch with different people from important organisations. For one of our project in the Balkan countries, I went through a number of online documents of the European Commission to make a summary of anything relevant to our project, which then helped us write our project proposal.
I also needed to check different websites (newspapers, journalists’ blogs) and even tweets on Twitter for different stories related to media and diversity which we would talk about on our website. For example, if we found an article depicting immigration in the UK positively or negatively, we would write about it on our website and explain why this story is a good example of responsible and inclusive journalism or why it reflects any type of discrimination.
One of my favourite tasks was to help manage MDI’s communications on the Social Media (Twitter) and social networks (Facebook) platforms. The Website and Communications Manager suggested I could help out and monitor MDI’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. She and I also had a long discussion about MDI’s social media strategy. We discussed about social media in general and we tried to find solutions to promote MDI’s activities on social media. As a social media expert, she also gave me many tips, which allowed understand the mechanics behind an organisation’s Social Media communication strategy.
I really appreciated that she valued my suggestions and input. I also appreciated my colleague for sharing with me so many secrets of managing online communication platforms. Afterwards, she gave me green light to interact with different users on both Facebook and Twitter and to keep her updated about our activity and feedback on social media. Interacting with people on social media is a daily effort but I managed to dedicate a bit of time every day to this task, which made me enjoy social media more and more.
My language skills also came in handy. I did some translation work from English into French and also helped proofread a number of documents, which were translated from Arabic into English.
In August, MDI organised an important event called “Inclusive Media for Inclusive Societies” which consisted of a study tour and a conference for media decision makers from Egypt. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) supported this event. The conference took place at the Frontline Club in London, a well-known venue for debates and conferences. This conference was an opportunity to discuss about the issues in Egypt and the ways in which responsible and inclusive journalism could help. Other editors, professors, experts and people interested in media and diversity attended and there was a very interesting exchange of ideas. This was also an opportunity to meet and interact with interesting people.
We had many surprises while organising this event, mainly because August was a very chaotic period for Egypt. However, we managed to handle everything despite the crisis and I was very happy to help out every time I could, from sending out the email invitations to our guests to collaborating with a coach company for the study tour around London. At the end of the event, hearing that my help was very much appreciated was very rewarding to me.
I also wrote a draft for a project proposal covering activities in Italy, Greece and Hungary. I helped summarise the current situation in all three countries and I was able to describe the suggested activities for this project and explain how MDI would get involved. This draft included the key points of our communication plan.
In September, I had a surprise from one of my colleagues who is a Project Manager. She organised a number of training sessions to get familiar with the Project Management basics. I am sure her tips and tricks might come in handy someday. We started with the basics and she made sure the lessons combine both theoretical and practical aspects. She encouraged us to be creative, to imagine a project we would like to implement and to apply the methodology to this project. I left before the lessons finished but fortunately, I can keep in touch with my colleague and continue this training by submitting my homework and questions by email.
1. Sharing an internship experience abroad: Introduction
2. Sharing an internship experience abroad: About Media Diversity Institute in London
3. Sharing an internship experience abroad: Multilingual aspects of MDI’s communications
4. Sharing an internship experience abroad: Tasks and learning outcomes
5. Sharing an internship experience abroad: Activities related to my MA programme
6. Sharing an internship experience abroad: Colleagues and working environment