Insights from a very different kind of Intern

Joseph Patterson, WACC Financial Controller, left, with Murtaza Bahrainwala on Murtaza's final day as summer intern with WACC. Photo: Contributed

Murtaza Bahrainwala was one of WACC’s two summer interns this year. His position was financed by Service Canada for a period of eight weeks. We asked Murtaza to tell us how he felt about working at the General Secretariat.

My name is Murtaza Bahrainwala and I am currently entering my final year of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Guelph, Canada. Working at an NGO was never part of my plan, but I am glad the plan got a bit derailed. As an engineering student, it was interesting to work at WACC in a very dynamic role. It was very different from numerous other roles I have fulfilled before and during university. 

Why did I choose WACC? First because they have a very interesting view on how they want to solve certain problems in the world, and also what those problems truly are. I think communication is a very interesting aspect as, even in conversations with a close friend, there is a difference between what I am saying and what they understand. And when you think about it from a more global perspective, it is not hard to imagine how important are communication and communication rights as issues that need to be addressed.

When I started at WACC, I was a bit nervous about how applicable my skills would be to what they needed me to do. I know I have a wide range of skills, however doing account consolidation and large scale excel sheet optimization is not something that I would have considered my forte. On the other hand, I am also not very comfortable writing proposals and things like that. So I wasn't sure how good a fit I would be for this job. But I have always had an attitude that if I am scared or nervous by something I will force myself to do it. On my first day, I could see that Joseph (my manager) knew the type of individual he was dealing with and set up projects and tasks that were achievable by me and which would also enhance my skills.   

 Some of the projects that were assigned to me, like fixing problems with membership data and email bounce-back issues both benefited from my engineering and software development skills - allowing me to get the job done faster and more effectively. Another task that I was assigned was to enhance the functionality of many of the project management spread sheets, as well as other sheets used to keep track of different aspects of contracts. My education helped me pick up on the problems quickly and allowed me to see where the issue had arisen. The experience I got while optimizing these sheets will help me at school, as I have learned so many different tricks and do's and don’ts.   

Even when I worked in the programme department during my last week at WACC, I assisted in preparing the files were ready for the audit that would take place the following week. I was able to gain some insight into how projects are managed and the processes for evaluation at WACC. It also gave me a more rounded view of WACC as it is the programme and project work that to some extent actually make the organization what it is.

I think it was a very interesting summer experience, full of learning new things that I hope will be applicable in my future career. I was glad I was able to work at an NGO and learn about a charity organization from the inside out. I think my experience at WACC has definitely changed my worldview for the better. 

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