Since beginning my time at Refugees International Japan as an intern back in November 2017, I have been able to grow both personally and professionally and understand first-hand what it is like to work within an NGO.

Before beginning my internship with RIJ, I was familiar with the issues surrounding refugees and non-profit organisations, but I had very little experience of knowing what happens within these organisations. I had always received flyers, posters or seen website articles about refugees crises from around the world from NGOs but I had very little understanding of how these NGOs helped raise awareness of these issues. Working with RIJ has given me greater insight into this area, allowing me to further understand the role that communication plays within NGOs.

During my internship, I was able to focus on developing RIJ’s social media presence and promote various events, programmes and projects RIJ supports around the world. It was through this focus on social media that I was able to learn about the importance that communication, and most importantly messaging, plays in raising awareness of refugee issues around the world.

Despite the constant coverage of various refugee crises in newspapers around the world, very few people connect with the issue on a humane and sympathetic level. For many people, the refugee crisis can be summed up as something that is happening in a faraway country and that does little to affect their lives. At RIJ, we wanted to change this and make sure to communicate these issues to people in a way that engages them, encourages them and compels them to support refugee issues.

Through talking with Jane, I was able to develop a communication strategy that present the positive stories of RIJ all around the world, making sure to highlight the successful stories of the many refugees that have benefitted from RIJ-funded projects. Doing so helped increase our social media presence, as people naturally gravitate towards positive and uplifting stories.

Moreover, I also learned the importance of maintaining a coherent message and brand style throughout all communication platforms. Working with previous RIJ promotional material, I was able to craft a distinctive style that is present throughout all social media platforms. By doing so, I made it easier for people to recognize RIJ on social media, flyers or the website, increasing our social visibility and strengthening our core message.

Overall, my experience at RIJ has been wonderful. I am grateful for the extensive experience I have had learning about all aspects of an NGO – whether it be fundraising, public relations, social media, community outreach and donations. Working at a smaller NGO for the past 5 months has allowed me to feel a part of the team as I was given responsibilities and tasks that are not usually given to internship roles. During these 5 months, I have been given the opportunity to learn from the mistakes I had made earlier on during my internship. Interning with RIJ for a longer period of time has allowed me to engage more with my responsibilities and tasks in a way that would not be possible in a much shorter time.  I have enjoyed every minute of my time here. I have enjoyed working with all members of the RIJ team while I have been here. This experience has not only helped shape my personal and professional knowledge but has helped orient my career options towards the field of communication as a result.