The subject of this week’s volunteer focus is Gemma Fisher, who took up a one-month role in our London hub for September. Take it away Gemma…
I did an English and Sociology undergrad and then a masters in Humanitarian Law and Conflict and wanted to gain some experience before trying to find work. I contacted Camara, and one of the previous interns asked me if I was interested in coming over to London, and I then took a call from Mash (London Production Manager, Mash Majid).
I took up the position of ‘Fundraising and Marketing Intern’ for a month. I would love to have held the position for longer and was so sad to leave the Camara team just as I was feeling settled, but I am based in Ireland and was couch surfing at the good grace of friends, so it wasn’t a possibility.
On my first day I was told about the first ever London container shipment which was going to Tanzania, so it was definitely a fortuitous time to be involved. At that point we were struggling reaching the quota of 500 computers so there was a lot of pressure. For the most part my role focused on organising the event, some aspects of which I found really hard, not hearing back from embassies and press was particularly frustrating after putting so much time into writing invitations and pitches. Another major challenge was definitely cold calling. It wasn’t something I had done before and I certainly had some negative responses, but it’s surprising how quickly you learn how to get through to the right people, and I found it was something I quite enjoyed at the end.
My time with Camara very much focused on the big shipment to Tanzania. I started with lots of phone calls – cold calling, or contacting previous donors and established contacts to see if they had any equipment for us. I also dealt with social media, taking pictures for twitter and trying to generate some interest in what we were doing around the shipment. Towards the impending shipping day I wrote press releases and contacted media, sent invites, and arranged party details. I went to collect the cake on shipment day and carried it an hour back to the hub on the bus, the pressure of minding the cake! I didn’t breathe until it was perched in its box on top of the filing cabinet nice and safe.
My favorite part of working for Camara was definitely the people, Mash, Maureeen (O’Donnell – European service manager), and the volunteers are amazing, I could not have asked for better people to work with and it couldn’t have ended on a more positive note, with a full container going and some celebratory bubbles. It was an amazing day.
I learned so much, both experience-wise and about myself, which sounds incredibly clichéd, but really is true. It was a month of firsts – cold calling, press releases, party planning, photography…I learned I am a good at things I would not have considered strengths, like writing – thank you Maureen!
I’ve now taken on another internship at the Immigrant Council of Ireland based in Dublin, where I will be offering advice and support to immigrants and referring special cases to our legal team. I’m also looking for a job! Thank you Camara London for an amazing month.
If you are interested in volunteering with Camara, check out the latest opportunities here.