Read the experiences of two students at American universities from a two-month internship on the Committee of Goodwill - Olga Havel Foundation.
Yelitza Cervantes is a UC Berkeley undergraduate student majoring in Spanish and Legal Studies. She was born and raised in Sacramento, California and enjoys traveling the world. She is very passionate about community service and has been volunteering at non-profit organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House Charities since high school. She aspires to work for the Criminal Justice System in the future, but she still hopes to be involved in philanthropy.
Jessica Urkov is also an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Psychology and Public Health. She is originally from Chicago, Illinois but currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She plans on going to nursing school in the future but would like to work at a non-profit organization for a couple of years beforehand. She enjoys cooking, traveling, and learning about different healthcare systems and public health issues in the world.
What made you want to come to Prague? Why did you choose to work with the Committee of Goodwill - Olga Havel Foundation?
Neither of us has ever traveled to central Europe so we thought it would be a great opportunity to explore the area. Both of us were recommended by peers to travel to Prague and luckily the EUSA internship organization offered a program to study and intern in Prague through our universities. We chose from a variety of categories for an internship placement and narrowed down our options to working with NGOs. However, our pairing with the organization was totally random! We are both so lucky to have been placed with such an incredible organization that has given us so many opportunities to grow.
Could you summarize some of the tasks you were given?
Our initial tasks involved proofreading and revising English translated texts such as the “Annual report from 2018” and the official VDV website. We assisted with administrative tasks, including organizing and filing various financial documents. Another task included creating excel spreadsheets to help digitize their database. Lastly, we were given the opportunity to visit various organizations and institutions partially funded by the Committee of Goodwill.
What are some of the highlights of your internship?
We both enjoyed visiting local organizations that are partially funded by the Committee of Goodwill. For example, we got to see the hospital, Nemocnice Milosrdnych sester sv. Karla boromejského v Praze. It was an interesting experience to see the various programs that the hospital provided such as a detox center for children, a rehabilitation center and palliative care for the elderly. We also got to visit one of the only at-home hospice organizations in the Czech Republic, which was just newly renovated.
Aside from all the wonderful visits, we were very lucky to be working in an including environment with strong women. Everyone in the office was so interactive and made sure to take the time to inform us about their specific roles and projects within the organization. Additionally, it was so nice to hear their advice about living in Prague and the hidden gems in the city.
Any final thoughts on your experience at Committee of Goodwill?
Yelitza Cervantes: I am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to intern at such a wonderful organization! Working with the organization has not only given me the chance to discover and learn about social programs in Prague but it has allowed me to meet incredible, passionate and hardworking people who care about social justice. I am very happy to have been able to experience working in the nonprofit sector along my wonderful coworkers. These past two months have been a great professional experience, and I will make sure to continue to create awareness for the organization back in California. - Yelitza
Jessica Urkov: I am so thankful for the opportunity to be able to intern at such an incredible organization with wonderful women. They have taught us a lot about non-profit organizations in the Czech Republic and it’s inspiring to see how passionate everyone in the office is about their work and social justice issues within the community. I have loved learning about each of the women in the office and hearing what it’s like to work at VDV. I can’t wait to use the lessons and skills I’ve learned here back in America and share them with others. - Jessica