Author: Maria Jose

As my internship at KORI draws to a close, I find myself compelled to reflect on the profound impact this experience has had on me. This journey has shaped not only my professional skills but also my personal outlook. In this reflection, I will delve into the lessons learned, the challenges overcome, and the growth achieved during my time at KORI.

Allow me to introduce myself. I come from El Salvador, a land full of picturesque beaches and majestic mountains. Yet, beneath its natural beauty lies a stark reality of inequality, poverty, and injustice. Growing up in such an environment, I keenly recognised the pressing need to amplify the voices of the most vulnerable in society. It became evident to me that there is acritical need for safe spaces where these individuals can flourish and thrive, free from the socio–economic barriers that hinder their progress.

From my teenage years onward, I’ve held a profound fascination for human behaviour, development, and mental health. Intimate encounters, coupled with observed experiences, fuelled my determination to pursue a career in Psychology. Currently, I find myself in the final semester of my academic journey, poised to translate this passion into meaningfulprofessional practices.

Upon discovering KORI’s mission and my initial conversation with Odiri, I was reassured that the organisation’s values resonated deeply with my own. This realisation sparked a sense of intrigue and excitement within me, compelling me to join this amazing and proactive group of people.

Over the course of my three–month internship, I engaged in extensive research focusing on London boroughs, with a particular emphasis on Islington and Haringey. This research deepened my understanding of systemic inequalities and enabled me to identify marginalised groups within these communities. Moreover, it provided valuable insights into the root causesof these issues and their impact on the well–being and quality of life of children and young people. This groundwork not only informed my entry into KORI but also fuelled my research skills and commitment to addressing these pressing societal challenges.

Subsequently, I had the opportunity to contribute to the development of the organisation’s Theory of Change. This framework serves as a comprehensive roadmap detailing how and why desired changes are anticipated to occur within a specific context.1 It delineates the pathways through which initiatives translate into the achievement of overarching goals. Personally, this task resonated deeply with me and became a highlight of my experience. It allowed me to apply the knowledge I gained from courses such as Group Processes, Social Psychology, Developmental Psychology, and Psychology of Adolescence to real–world practice. However, I did face some challenges along the way; for example, understanding the complexity of factors that influence the well–being of children and young people can be challenging. Also, developing a Theory of Change that is both comprehensive and coherent requires careful consideration of causal pathways, assumptions, and evidence. Balancing the need for specificity with the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances can be challenging.

Another significant task that gave me invaluable skills was researching accessibility, limitations, and waiting times of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).  Delving into the realities faced by young people in London regarding mental health support was profoundly moving. It was disheartening to discover instances where individuals were denied help simply because they did not meet certain criteria of severity. However, this revelation served as a powerful catalyst, igniting a deeper sense of motivation and determination to advocate for change and provide better access to mental health services forall who need them.

Among other responsibilities, I undertook tasks such as editing the organisation’s policy, crafting a focused article on Islington and Haringey, and conducting research on funding opportunities, local schools, and available youth provisions. These experiences provided me with invaluable insights into organisational management, honed my research abilities, enhanced my proficiency in written communication. Furthermore, I found that I was able to further develop skills such as problem–solving, adaptability, and information analysis, all of which are crucial for effective engagement in the non–profit sector.

In conclusion, my time as an intern at KORI has been transformative, equipping me with a deeper understanding of human functioning and systemic inequalities, a passion for advocating for marginalised voices, and honing some personal and professional skills. Each task reinforced my commitment to social impact and equipped me with the tools to make meaningful change in the non–profit sector. As I move forward, I carry with me special lessons learned, a strengthened resolve to amplify voices, and a deep–seated determination to contribute to a more just and equitable world for all.

I wholeheartedly recommend this experience to students pursuing social sciences, individuals driven by a passion for social justice and advocacy, and those eager to make a positive impact in their communities. It’s also ideal for anyone interested in working with children and young people, or simply seeking personal and professional growth. Regardless of your background or career aspirations, the internship at KORI offers invaluable opportunities to learn, grow, and contribute meaningfully to the lives of others.