My training at LIFT

By LIFT on August 18, 2015

Categories: First Person Perspective, Real Stories

Employee training: (n.) the essential part of entering any new job; often synonymous with tiring, monotonous and sometimes even overwhelming. This is the definition I previously held before starting my summer internship as a Community Advocate with LIFT-DC, where I have been pleasantly surprised to find that my training has instead been ongoing, immensely helpful, thoughtfully intriguing, and even fun.

Ongoing. Training and support from the Fellows at LIFT isn’t just something that occurred over training week, but rather a feeling of constant caring every minute of every day in the office. Whether a Member comes to me with a difficult case, I’m having trouble with our computer system, Link, or I’m just looking to vent about the tedium of another job assessment when helping a Member seek employment, the Fellows are always there to celebrate or commiserate alongside myself and the other Advocates. I didn’t realize that my internship with LIFT would not only enable me to learn about public benefits and the myriad of difficulties poverty poses for individuals and families in D.C., but also help me grow as a person and develop professionally.

Helpful. Apart from meeting one-on-one with a Member, my favorite part of the day is going around in a circle at our debrief meetings and learning from their extensive experience and improving my work as an Advocate through their advice. Through learning new things about community resources and talking about daily occurrences in the office, I am able to better emotionally process the hardships my Members are facing. I’ve learned that LIFT isn’t just about helping our Members-it also encompasses building an office space where we strive to help each other (and share lots of laughs and stories from cats to heavy metal concerts). Following the Fellow’s lead, I am able to foster close friendships with the other Advocates, ones that I hope to maintain far beyond this summer.

Thought intriguing. Training does not just take place in the office. Through LIFT, I have been able to visit other organizations in the area, hear from a clinical psychologist and attend a networking workshop all in the one month I’ve interned for LIFT. These events extend beyond the work I do in the office and have allowed me to process my work in new ways. For example, visiting Life Pieces to Masterpieces (see sparked my thinking about how to connect my voice and perspective to someone with a very different identity or community than my own-a consideration that is very important when working with our Members.

Fun. I have so much fun at the LIFT office, mostly through the quirky conversations that arise through spending 8 hours a day with a diverse group of college students. I have breached topics and learned tidbits about my co-workers that never would have happened in another work environment. We have inside jokes that I know no one outside of the LIFT office would understand or find funny. We also have endless topics to talk about because not only are we late teen and early twenty-year-old college students, but we are fledging social service workers who are obsessed with the D.C. housing and employment market. I think that the advocate training built a groundwork that allows us to relate through our common interests in community service. So ongoing, helpful, thought intriguing and fun-not too shabby for training I would say!

This post was written by Rebecca Dunn, an Advocate at LIFT-DC.