The internship position I currently occupy involves providing front-line support to the residents of Los Angeles who seek to participate in the local affordable housing program. The communication is quite intensive and, furthermore, may occur via several channels in parallel, which requires appropriate interpersonal skills and permanent concentration. Although this may be challenging, my job appeals to me because I have always seen helping people as my mission in this world. My altruistic views actually are among the reasons why I chose the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) for internship.
It is noteworthy that the pandemic of COVID-19 caused serious disruptions at the local, national, and global level that added substantially to the amount of people who need assistance. Many lost their jobs due to the quarantine-related crisis, and those who became unable to pay rents for their dwellings currently are homeless. In Los Angeles, the local authorities are facing difficulties counting such people that emerge from the recent surge of the infection (Vega, 2022). Therefore, the situation is highly concerning; depressed and desperate population consult HACLA about affordable housing on an hourly basis. For me, this means additional stress and, consequently, the need for maximal resourcefulness and adaptability, developing which actually is in the list of my learning objectives.
Resolving the issue as soon as possible calls for staff, due to which I have no extra time for education, and it occurs in parallel with serving the customers. In particular, I observe my coworkers to acquire visual examples of how emotional intelligence and self-governance manifest themselves in practice. How exactly social skills can facilitate communication with distressed and frequently aggressive people, is another essential point. I apply such observations to my own work immediately, having satisfied myself of their correspondence to the professional principles and values of a customer advisor. About the latter, I predominantly have to self-reflect due to the lack of time for detailed consultations with my supervisor.
More specifically, my core tasks include accepting phone calls, replying to emails, and interaction with the customers in person when needed. Considering the above situation with housing, many of those who enquire with HACLA shout, use offensive words, or cry. Such behavior can irritate, especially in face-to-face conversations, but it is unacceptable to hurt the interlocutors, who already are in serious trouble, by demonstrating my negative emotions. To avoid this, I have to listen carefully and attentively, focusing on facts, not feelings, as productive communication rests on the former, while the latter frequently interfere with it.
This strategy helps me adapt to the difficult circumstances and, consequently, contributes to the accomplishment of my learning goals. The social skill I believe to be critical in such situations is resourcefulness, which means the ability to opt for the most relevant response quickly. At the current stage, I apparently lack it as compared to the more competent customer advisors, but I hope to reach the necessary level with the time and experience.
It is worth noting that the pandemic-related problems are not the only reason why I need to develop better control over my feelings. HACLA is one of the biggest housing authorities in the United States, therefore, the work for it is quite active but stressful by definition. In fact, this institution has been engaged in problem solving since its foundation, which occurred in 1938 to assist the victims of the economic recession that marked the epoch (“About HACLA,” n.d., para. 1). Currently, the country is in a crisis again, which means the need for customer advisors to address outstandingly large amounts of cases, frequently in parallel. This made the administration search for interns on an urgent basis, of whom all, including myself, had to be ready to work under pressure.
Notwithstanding the high load, I am satisfied with my experience at HACLA, as, in the simplest terms, it is making me both intellectually and morally stronger. Considering my responsibility to the disadvantaged population, I may not be shy, depressed, or emotionally vulnerable because in such a state, I am unable to resolve even my own issues. The duty to support and reassure the other, meanwhile, obliges me to rule the situation rather than become dependent on it. The extreme conditions, in which I find myself, provide me with a chance to develop the necessary skills faster and apply them more effectively than it would be possible to do otherwise. In addition, the lack of time for proper consulting favors reflection and speculation as the main available source of theoretical knowledge; this stimulates my intellectual development.
It would be reasonable, however, to organize the work of customer advisors, especially the less experienced and resilient interns, in a more appropriate way to avoid burnout in case the current disruption lasts long. For instance, I recommend allowing the staff members to organize and decorate their workplaces in an appealing manner on the condition of decency and neatness to make those more comfortable as well as pleasant. Such a solution could help outbalance stress by awakening positive emotions in the workers.
About HACLA. (n.d.). Web.
Vega, P. (2022). Orange County delays homeless count amid COVID-19 surge. Los Angeles Times. Web.