An eye-opening internship for Irene
My name is Irene Deltetto. I came to Australia from Italy one year ago to do a Master in Public Health at the University of Sydney. I had little experience working in public health, therefore when I received an email from my faculty offering an intern position at Cancer Council NSW, I did not think twice about it and applied for the position. What could have been a better experience in local public health than working for one of the most important not-for-profit organisations aiming to beat cancer in Australia?
This year over 100 schools signed up for a Healthy Lunch Box session in Greater Western Sydney region alone! My primary role was to support the EI2BI Project Officer in Parramatta during this Healthy Lunch Box season – the busiest time of the year!
Over the six weeks I worked with Cancer Council NSW, we delivered more than 70 Healthy Lunch Box presentations, and I personally facilitated more than ten of them. This was a great experience that allowed me to understand other people’s behaviours and attitudes, and how to relate health information to them. During my internship, I also supported other volunteers to deliver their sessions and liaised with schools to make sure everything ran smoothly on the day.
Before I applied for the internship position I did not have a clear understanding of how a prevention program was run in real life. All I had was university theory. These six weeks with Cancer Council NSW have allowed me to understand that the “behind the scenes” office work represents the backbone of a prevention program. Indeed, a prevention program is not only what is seen from the outside, the campaign, the presentation, or the event. It is much more than this. It is all of building relationships with schools, the administrative work, the preparation of the materials that will be needed, the management of all the people involved. Nothing would be possible without each of these activities working together.
This internship also gave me a chance to volunteer. Being a volunteer means putting your time and energy to the service of others, without expecting anything in return. At Cancer Council NSW this is not true, because volunteering gives you so much in return. For me, it not only gave me an inside look into the inner workings of a prevention program, it also allowed me to understand the great diversity between communities in Australia, giving me the opportunity to influence them to take small steps to improve their families’ lifestyles.
Being a volunteer is a way to donate something back to the world.
This internship was a great experience, and I hope that the same opportunity will be given again during the next Healthy Lunch Box season. This will not only give someone else the possibility to understand how an organisation such as Cancer Council NSW works to make a difference, but also a chance to feel what working for others, and to be part of a change for the next generations, means.