When I first started my internship with CIELARKO six weeks ago, I was unsure what to expect. I was very excited and curious as to what my tasks would be and who the people were that I’d spend the next one and a half months with. On my first day, I was pretty nervous, so sitting down with Layo and starting to get to know each other face-to-face helped me to relax, but also to clarify for myself what I expected to get out of this experience. Namely to acquire an inside look at what being a consultant really means and perhaps also to find out if I want to further pursue this profession in the future.

Since I did not know much about the specific work of CIELARKO, apart from what Layo told me and what their website revealed beforehand, I spent a lot of my time during the first few days of my internship reading through websites and manuals. Having attained more detailed knowledge on the topics and clients CIELARKO is working with, I began feeling more comfortable and confident with the subjects at hand. This is a pattern that would repeat itself quite a few times during my stay. For instance, when first meeting the different clients CIELARKO works with, I often found it difficult to follow for different reasons. One of which definitely is that English is not my first language, but another one was also that I had not been in contact with the topics they discussed so far. Here it was very helpful that my questions were always welcomed and additionally, Layo explained to me that my questions were also a good opportunity for herself to organise her thoughts and sometimes also to question things herself.

During the following weeks, I spent a lot of time at the Muizenberg office with Layo and Sim, who also helped me whenever I had questions. While stationed at Muizenberg, I also accompanied Layo to see various clients, ranging from NGOs to large corporate businesses. Like so often during this great experience, I was astonished at the huge amount of trust they put in me. Of course, I had signed a confidentiality agreement and yet I was amazed that I was allowed to participate in confidential client meetings. This experience offered me an even greater appreciation for the importance of trusting and earning the trust of colleagues.

On top of that, I felt very honoured that Layo always gave me the feeling that my thoughts and opinions are valued. Obviously, Layo did not always agree with me but I felt that my contribution is wanted and valued and I am very grateful for that. This is another aspect that made my internship such a great experience.

Now, at the end of my internship, I look back and realise that I would never have thought that six weeks could fly by so fast. I am so deeply thankful to CIELARKO and especially Layo for granting me the opportunity to attain first-hand insights into her job as a consultant and for doing so much more for me than I could have expected or even hoped for. During the past one and a half months I accompanied Layo to various clients, took lots of notes at meetings, expanded my PowerPoint and LibreOffice skills, got acquainted with the TIFF model, attended a family constellations workshop, received an equine coaching session and much more. Finally, I also want to thank my colleague Sim for answering so many of my questions and for letting me accompany him to his Xhosa lessons at Forres Preparatory School every Wednesday, which made my stay even richer than it already was.

Laura Krehbiel.


Posted on 28 September 2017