Relationships are the Heart of Daily Work
By Mandy Cassler
I’m Mandy Cassler, a BSW student intern at Daily Work from Metropolitan State University. For my senior internship placement I chose Daily Work because of their commitment to helping immigrant and refugee job seekers find and maintain gainful employment. Daily Work is where I had the pleasure of meeting several other interns from universities around the region; this is where I met Rachel O’Keefe. Rachel made an impression on me because she spoke with such obvious care about the job seekers she was assisting. She seemed to have a wonderful connection with them and I wanted to know more.
So, who is Rachel O’Keefe anyway? Rachel is a BSW student at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls. However before becoming a student intern, Rachel loved her job working at a small frozen yogurt shop where she stocked the toppings bar and served up excellent customer service. Customer service is a critical component at Daily Work, but it extends beyond the traditional notion of being friendly and helpful. At Daily Work, Rachel’s customer service also includes a great deal of empathy, compassion and patience with job seekers and colleagues alike.
By a twist of fate, Rachel ended up at Daily Work because her original internship placement fell through. Rachel says she has gained a great deal of experience, “I think it is an essential experience to work with and learn about people whose cultures are different from your own. I still have so much to learn, but Daily Work has definitely broadened my view of the world and the people in it. I’m very grateful to be part of it.”
Her biggest surprise? “I was shocked to experience [while working with job seekers] just how difficult finding employment can be,” Rachel says. She pointed out specifically how the system “is not set up for everyone to succeed”.
“I always thought about people needing to find work and struggling with homelessness or unemployment in the hypothetical. But, seeing so many people go through it, and being privy to parts of their stories and their lives. It makes me frustrated at how difficult it can be,” Rachel said.
The barriers job seekers at Daily Work encounter can be daunting. Rachel admits that the most frustrating barrier is witnessing the injustices many job seekers face; sometimes due to system inequities and sometimes due to discrimination. “It’s disheartening; it’s something that I wish I had more control over…learning to accept that I can’t change everything or fix things has been challenging,” Rachel says.
Despite the challenges, Rachel says she experiences many more positives than disappointments. She cherishes the opportunities to watch people realize their goals, assist people with learning English, and of course, to refine her own social work skills. She says the most rewarding part of her internship is the many relationships she has forged with job seekers and colleagues.
“I’ve been so grateful and touched to hear people’s stories, their struggles and their victories, their hardships, and their joy. That is such a gift and I don’t take it for granted. The people that I’ve met are all so different and so meeting with each job seeker looks very different. Learning how to listen and having people be willing to share has been the most rewarding part,” Rachel says.
To anyone considering volunteering at Daily Work or another helping agency, Rachel says “Do it!” "when I take myself out of it and truly listen to people share their lives which is such a beautiful and special thing". If you are interested in volunteering at Daily Work please contact Julie Hoff at 651-204-3043 or firstname.lastname@example.org, we would love to hear from you
Thank you, Rachel, for sharing your story for the Daily Work blog; your words are inspiration for all who wish to work in the helping professions.