Tips for Public Health and Community Interns
Don’t be afraid to ask questions: There’s no such thing as a dumb question. When working within the community, don’t be afraid to ask questions and be curious. For those that do not identify as a part of the Indigenous/Native community, asking questions are very important as many spaces and traditions are sacred and you do not want to overstep your boundaries. With asking questions, this gives you a better understanding of the community you are working with and allows for you to continue providing support from a culturally accepted approach.
Be flexible: Unlike a traditional mental health support organization, we bring ourselves to the community. By bringing our services to the community, this often entails spending a great deal of time supporting community events. As a community intern, it is important that you have some flexibility in your time. There may be instances where events end a little later than stated, may not start at the designated time, or they may ask for HIRW to be present a few days prior to the event. It is understood that as an intern you have many different life experiences going on, so it is important to be in constant communication with your supervisors.
Be patient and smile: We serve a community that, historically, has been through many different events. This is important to keep in mind as you begin to work with them as it may take some time for them to trust you and welcome you to the community. Because of this, patience is key. There may be times where you do not feel connected to the community or you may feel that they are being “resistant” or “unfriendly” to your presence. Again, keep in mind the historical context of the community, take a deep breath be patient and smile. As they begin to see you throughout the community over the course of your internship experience, trust will begin to surface.