My HLAF Journey: How I Thrived Outside the Box

By: Julius Mojares

During our internship application period, I told myself I was doing it only for compliance. I was not really putting much thought into it. I could have sent out resumes to companies I did not know at all. Luckily, I have friends who introduced me to HLAF or Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation. A law firm. Or an NGO. Whatever, I thought. I had not realized that what I was getting myself into was a roller coaster ride.

During our first week, it was all meh. Meetings. Event documentation. Piece of cake, I thought. But after one meeting with the executive director, that was when it dawned on me: they are expecting so much from us. They made us do a comprehensive Communication Plan. Not like the one we did in our course. They want a comprehensive and well-articulated communication plan. 

So, that night, we spent twelve hours collaborating with our ideas, plans,  and congregations. It was stressful. We even had to produce a PPT presentation. We worked until six in the morning and then prepared for the presentation at eight. It was exhausting.

Now, why am I telling you this?

I would go back to my first sentence: I was doing it for compliance. If I could, I would have just signed up for it and then slack off. But the thing is this company where I got myself into is not just a company. It was an NGO that advocates for the rights of persons deprived of liberty and it is something that is just close to my heart.

That’s when I told myself that when I write for this company, I would pour my heart out. When I directed our company podcast, I poured my heart out. I have learned to love the company, its advocacies, and I have learned how things work in a real-life job. 

To keep it short, HLAF acquainted me with what it is like to actually work. 

What we do in HLAF

As communication interns, we are tasked to produce the communication materials HLAF use in their social media page. There were days when we would attend meetings or events in which we will write a news article. Or a narrative report to be sent to funders.

We also produced publicity materials and infographics. I am not that skilled in terms of design so my role in this particular project is to plan the content and the captions. 

Also, we produced the company’s first-ever podcast. We titled it AMPLIFY. I spearheaded this project with the help of my co-interns and supervisor. I wrote scripts, revision after revision. And by the end of our internship period, we were able to produce three episodes.

Our tasks do not end when we are off the clock. There were days when our supervisor would ask us to produce urgent content in the middle of the night. We understood, however, that it was part of the job.

Who I worked with

We were four interns. Jacob, Jelai, Roland, and myself. We have known each other for almost four years now. We have been working in the same group ever since we met in college.

Before the internship started, we had already decided to apply in the same company and live under the same roof. Despite the pandemic, we pushed through with our plan on renting an apartment in Alangilan, Batangas City.

Living together had a lot of advantages. We can easily coordinate with each other. We can also help each other out whenever the tasks are overwhelming. Roland and I shared the same room while Jacob and Jelai shared the other room. Whenever we feel down or tired, we can always find diversion by sitting together with our coffee and garlic bread.

I realized, working is a lot more fun when you are doing it with your friends. Now, I wonder if I could have survived it without them. Probably not.

What I learned

My internship with HLAF taught me a lot of lessons I will never forget.

Working with lawyers and communication professionals, I have learned that it is not enough to have excellent communication skills. One must need to understand that every company has its own voice that it uses and as communication interns, we need to learn how to speak their language. Their voice. 

Also, I learned how important design thinking is. We were taught to harness every idea we have before putting it into paper. Before any of our works had been approved, they had to go through processes of revisions. Of course, it was difficult to accept at first but over time, I realized it was part of the growth we were seeking at this internship, to begin with.

Furthermore, the lesson I will always bring with me is the lesson I learned from the PDLs I interviewed. They taught me how to value freedom and not let anyone take it away. Their stories were very touching I could hardly write about them. I wanted to be as careful as possible when I wrote about them.

Outside the box.

Like I said, at first, it was only for compliance. But working as an intern in HLAF challenged me. And I took it. I learned volumes of knowledge and skills and I couldn’t be any more thankful.

For me, my internship experience was a way to get out of my comfort zone. I grew not only as a development communication practitioner but also as a human being. What I learned in HLAF, I will take with me from here on forward. Like a sword. Like a knight ready to conquer.


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