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Intern Spotlight: An interview with Keshet Benschikovski

Photo: Mark Youmans/IRC Silver Spring

April is National Volunteer Month and the IRC is grateful for our network of over 250 volunteers and interns each year. Last year our volunteers contributed 23,304 hours of labor, the equivalent to over 11 full-time staff members. 
This month we are featuring an interview with our Logistics and Casework Intern, Keshet Benschikovski, a student at American University’s School of International Service, as she shares why she's proud to work with the IRC in Silver Spring. 

An interview with Keshet Benschikovski, Logistics and Casework Intern

As a Logistics and Casework intern, Keshet works to ensure refugee families have safe and affordable furnished housing before they arrive and works with casework staff to provide services after they arrive.

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

As a student at American University’s School of International Service, I have learned about the work done at IRC both in class and through my peers. After hearing from friends that have interned in the past, it was clear to me that they all shared enthusiasm and pride in the work that they were doing. I was very impressed by the IRC’s mission and work and wanted to contribute in any way I could.

What interested you in the Logistics and Casework internship?

I specifically applied for the Logistics and Casework internship, as I wanted to fill a position that would allow me to experience both the pre-arrival preparations and post-arrival assistance for incoming refugees. I wanted to truly understand the work and assistance that IRC provides to its clients and this position allowed me to experience the best of both worlds.

What's a typical day like for you?

As a Logistics and Casework intern, I get the opportunity to assist both the Logistics and Casework team. In this position, my work is comprised of both office tasks, relating to data entry and case filing, and field work, including pre-arrival housing set ups and accompanying clients to various appointments.

What are some of the challenges you face in your day-to-day work? 

Since a large portion of my position is to assist clients with their applications and appointments to various social services, I find myself constantly challenged with new tasks. Every day I am asked to assist a client with a task that I don’t necessarily know how to do yet. For example, many times I have been asked to assist a client in an application for certain services that I don’t necessarily know a lot about or use myself. I recognize that I come from great privilege, and as a result I have not needed to apply for Medicaid, food stamps or other social services. In these situations, as an intern, I am challenged to adapt quickly and learn so that I can help clients sign up for the services they need.

Adapting quickly is exactly how I deal with these challenges. Throughout my time at IRC, I have learned a lot about the most common services our clients use, how to apply, and what documents our clients need to bring with them. I am very glad I have had this opportunity to work with IRC because I have learned so much and these are experiences, I couldn’t get otherwise. I am so glad I get to help people while also learning in the process.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

The work. I am so glad I have had the opportunity to work for an organization I truly value. At IRC, I get to do work that I am proud of and am passionate about. I get to meet with clients and help them personally. When I do work in the office, I realize that these remedial tasks have a larger purpose. When I am out on the field, I enjoy meeting with new clients and learning about their experiences. I get to help them personally navigate the public transport and social service system, and through this, I learn about these systems myself. 

What are your future plans and how has your work with the IRC impacted you?

As an International Studies major, my focus has been on global security and conflict resolution. Within this topic, I’ve been specifically interested in how conflict and lack of resources might cause displacement. This internship has given me the opportunity to learn more about the experiences and struggle of displaced peoples who arrive to the US. Through the work I’ve done at IRC, I have gained experience that I will carry with me as I move on to other career endeavors. After graduating, I hope to continue to work in this field, and a complete a master's degree that focuses on issues relating to conflict and displacement in the Middle East.

The IRC in Silver Spring is currently recruiting for summer interns. If you are motivated to help others, learn about refugee resettlement, and to gain experience working in a nonprofit visit our website and apply today: Rescue.org/SilverSpring