Adéla Karlová is a young student from Liberec, who after her graduation from Park Lane International School in Prague joined the communication team of Caritas Czech Republic as an intern. She became part of the Humanitarian Aid and International Development department. We have asked Adéla about her motivation to spend her summer holidays helping Caritas, and what it is like for her to be an intern with us.
Adéla, summer holidays before starting university are one of the longest and students often take it as an opportunity to relax or travel. Why did you choose a different route and opted for an internship?
In a few weeks, I am moving to the UK to study and I wanted to use the time between graduation and starting university wisely and meaningfully. I would once want to work in the NGO sector, so I saw the internship as a great opportunity to try this type of work out, and also see from the inside how NGOs operate. And to be honest, I was also keen to get on with things again after nearly two years of the pandemic, which offered too much free time for me. Yet again, I wanted to feel I am doing something.
The whole decision also goes hand in hand with my personality and life attitude. I am generally very active, I like working and I want to grow. Getting experience from such an internship brings me more than time spent at the seaside. Or I believe so anyway. In my life, I will have plenty of opportunities to relax, and when I want to take time off, I will. But at the moment I feel there are more important things to do in my life.
If I am not mistaken, the internship in Caritas is not your first non-profit experience.
Definitely not, I have always been interested in non-profit activities. Despite being an active person involved in many projects and activities, I felt that working for others without expecting anything back had been missing in my life. So at high school, I started a non-profit project Charitlon.
Could you explain what it was about?
We prepared a series of fundraising activities including a charity pentathlon and a concert. We wanted to use the collected donations to support children leaving children´s homes. For many of them, it is challenging to find their way outside the home, so we decided to support an initiative “Pro lepší život” (For a Better Life) run by a Horní Počernice Children´s Home. It consists of a series of workshops where the participants learn about how to write a CV, find a job, and also how to be assertive, say “no” etc.
Did you succeed, or was it not possible during the coronavirus pandemic?
What we succeeded in was collecting money, especially from sponsors. The pentathlon itself, which was to be the highlight of our fundraising campaign, was planned for May 2020, but it could not happen because of the pandemic. So we moved it to the following May, but not even then was the situation favourable. So we donated the collected money to an organisation which supports children in homes. During the pandemic, I joined a volunteer initiative to distribute arts and crafts equipment to kindergartens for children of first-line workers in the Liberec region.
There are numerous internship possibilities both in the private and non-profit sectors. Why did you choose Caritas, namely its international department?
At high school, I studied in English so I was looking for an internship where I could use this language in everyday communication. Of course, there are many such organisations, but in Caritas, I already at the interview stage immediately got on well with the communication team, which I eventually joined. I also appreciated the flexibility. Both regarding working ours – I can arrange my work as I need – and the work itself.
I really enjoy that we discuss everything in advance, including what I will be doing, what I want to learn or try. The expectations of me are quite high, but on the other hand, I am part of the team and to a great extent, I can form the internship to suit my needs, as well as combine it with my other activities outside Caritas. The fact that Caritas has missions in various countries, also allows me to – at least virtually – travel to such far places as Mongolia or Zambia.
So what exactly do you do in Caritas?
Most of my time takes up article writing. I also have been preparing interviews with Caritas employees, here in the Czech Republic as well as abroad. I have recently done an interview with our project manager in Mongolia for example, which was great because I could meet someone from outside the Head Office in Prague. Then there are a lot of translations to do, both from and to English. And another of my agendas is Instagram, which I am working on with one of my colleagues.
What is it like working in Caritas? If you ever had the opportunity to join us again, would you take it?
Since I am on home office, there is literally nothing I would be unhappy with. But I also enjoy going into the office; the atmosphere there is great and if I need anything, there is always someone happy to help. So the work suits me really well – the content and the team alike.
So it met your expectations …
Definitely. I have to admit that the workload is higher than I had imagined, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. I thought with Caritas work I would just fill the times when I was bored, but I ended up working also when I could have had a different programme. But I enjoy it, since it has allowed me to get involved more and have more say in what I do and write for Caritas.
This question sounds a bit like a cliché, but what have you learnt for your future life?
I can recognise a lot more flags than before. But seriously, I feel great development regarding writing. At school, we always had to write analytical essays and scientific writing, but here I have to think a lot more about what the reader actually wants to read and how to do it so that he enjoys the text. So my news style improved a lot. The rather intensive experience from working in a non-profit is also great. I can do what I enjoy and help people at the same time. It makes me feel good, and also my karma is improving.
Helping others definitely feels good and improves our karma, but still, many students rather get a summer job during their holidays, than volunteer. How do your friends, family, schoolmates see your choice?
Both of my parents are very successful in what they do. And ever since I remember they have been trying to motivate me to aim for success too. So they support me in such activities. They often say that your life is what you make it, and I see it similarly. My close friends to a certain extent admire that I do not only sit around but do something meaningful. Some might think I am a little bit of a weirdo.
We definitely do not think of you as a weirdo! Thank you for the interview as well as giving your holidays to helping Caritas. Good luck with your studies in Britain!