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Intern Spotlight: Alphaeus Hanson’s commitment to service

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IRC in Silver Spring intern Alphaeus H.

Tell us about yourself and how you got connected with the IRC Silver Spring.

I grew up in Newark, Delaware and graduated from the University of Delaware (UD) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and a Spanish Foreign Language Certificate. I was a four-year scholar athlete on the UD football team. After graduation, I looked for opportunities to establish myself in a different location besides Delaware. The pandemic made it challenging to find opportunities, but it also allowed me to find the IRC’s virtual internship. After looking into the type of work the IRC did, I had no doubt that this would be perfect for me to continue developing my skills and engage in meaningful work of helping people establish a better future for themselves and their families.

What made you decide to provide your community service at the IRC?

After doing research into who the IRC was and what they did, I knew that I wanted to be a part of something that was empowering to people who were coming from adverse situations. I saw myself using the knowledge and skills I have gained, to assist in whatever capacity I could. Ever since middle school, I have gone on mission trips and volunteered in different capacities. Therefore, working with the IRC is a continuation of my quest to make the world a better place. I was hired as an Economic Empowerment intern. Most newly arrived refugees are not familiar with the US. workforce system. The IRC’s Economic Empowerment team is there to teach refugees and other humanitarian immigrants all about how to get their first job or a job upgrade in the U.S. and to help them in that process. Clients learn the norms of the U.S. workplace, how to create an effective resume, practice interview techniques, and learn how to navigate other challenges to ensure they can get and keep a job.

What are some of the challenges you face in your day-to-day-work? How do you deal with them?

Given how much effort I make to help our clients, I get attached to the process of making them successful. The toll it takes mentally is challenging at times because you are limited in what you can do virtually to help them. Sometimes, clients have the desire to help themselves and reach out to you for support but with the current situation of the pandemic, there are delays on the resources that they need to move on with their journey towards sustainability. There is also the responsibility knowing that the client is relying on your services. Something I quickly realized as an IRC intern, was that you were going to have responsibilities that extended beyond what normal internships may provide. The quality of work you do and attention you dedicate to your work sometimes has a direct effect on how well the client can adapt to life in the U.S. You have real people depending on you to do your best work.

While this can be challenging, it reflects your character because the way you respond to the challenge will determine how effective you are at your job. I have dealt with these challenges by compartmentalizing my focus to only the task at hand and dedicate all my attention to that task. This allowed me to forget about the things I could not control and focus on the things I could control, and I believe it has paid dividends in my effectiveness and efficiency when serving our clients.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

The unique aspect of this job is that you have a direct positive impact on the lives of refugees and asylees, some of whom were in living in dire situations and different country not that long ago. I like how I can see the positive impact that I have on a client’s life from the work I do. From creating resumes to prepping clients for job interviews, it is rewarding to hear when clients are successful, and it provides even more motivation to continue striving to give our clients the opportunity for a better future.

What are your career goals, and how do they align with what you do at the IRC?

The world is constantly changing and the nature of some jobs and positions may not be the same as what they are today. I am always looking to adjust to the world and learn more about what our reality will be in the future. With that being said, I have a keen interest in Foreign Service work and ensuring the sovereignty of the United States and its interests. During this internship, our clients have relied on the quality of service I provide and in whatever future role I may have, I feel that the work I have done at the IRC has prepared me to take on that responsibility, knowing that many more people will put their trust in me to provide a distinguished standard of service.