Oh, so THAT’s what we’re doing- Week 4 – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Oh, so THAT’s what we’re doing- Week 4

Throughout joining multiple clubs and orgs during my freshman year, I learned that all of them have a specific “aura” around them, a specific culture. Some of cultures are drastically different from each other. For example, I’m a senator for the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and those guys DON’T play. I mean, of course the club is about building community while helping everyone become successful engineers, but it’s very serious on what it wants to achieve for their members. Other organizations I’m in, like the Michigan Community Scholars Program (MCSP), are also productive, but very chill. There’s a pillar called Programming Board n U (PBnU), that’s specifically geared towards making parties and other get-togethers for its member. Now I’m in Authority Health, and like the other orgs I joined, I had to learn about its culture. And there’s some definite I gathered that I was surprised to know.

The biggest one was the workplace culture, especially the dress code. This was my first full-time internship, so my immediate thought for dress code was business professional. I remember the first meeting I had with my advisor I came in with a blazer. She, on the other hand, had on an Authority Health t-shirt. It made me realize that Authority Health, although a passionate and determined organization, is not like internships on TV where everyone is stereotypically suited up. Authority Health is concerned about building community within their org and not just outside of it, so when it comes to 1-3 person check ins, why be strict with outfits, of all things. Of course I’m not going to pull up with PJs, so from then on I wore a solid colored t-shirt for supervisor meetings and small MOTION meetings and kept the blazer for larger MOTION meetings.

Another things for the workplace was dialogue. I was really stiff during my first few meetings, and I didn’t talk too much, especially when it came to the MOTION meetings when I was meeting with more than my supervisor. However, as time went on, I replaced the stiff rigidly analytical tone with a more passionate, engaged tone. I felt myself talking and laughing more during my supervisor meetings. Next up I plan to talk more during the MOTION meetings, as I know they value input from all people.

Of course, I can’t ignore the race/ethnicity and age makeup of the meetings I’ve been to. Majority of the people I come into contact with are adult-aged, with the majority of the race being white, though there are some minorities such as black people. The only person who really looked like me was Jasmine. Still, I’m not at all threatened by the differences in social groups. Everyone I’ve come in contact with are passionate about food insecurity and willing to address all the faucets that come with it, racial disparities being one of them. They also held a social injustice meeting about the current events, and brought up protests that were happening near by. I’m glad that they are making moves like this, and I hope to contribute to that culture by providing even more evidence of social disparities within food insecurity (race and SES being a few of them).

I’m really liking how my internship is going so far. I hope to learn and grow more as the weeks go by!

2 thoughts on “Oh, so THAT’s what we’re doing- Week 4”

  1. Hi Leslie,

    I really liked how you paralleled your experiences with UM student orgs and Authority Health! In my placement, casual wear in small meetings is also the go-to in terms of cultural norms. Like your meetings, I am also having an easier time opening up and speaking more confidently to other organization members and I’m glad that this is a sign of us making progress in adjusting to our placements!

  2. Hi Leslie! I also was very overdressed the first time I met with my site-supervisors and the rest of the Soulardarity team and did not say much at all. This last week though, I had a long discussion with one of the leaders about Avatar and how it relates to the real world! It has become so much more fun now that I know the social dynamic of my placement as well as realized that when people work on serious and tiring projects, they need to laugh and take breaks to talk about fun things.

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