By Hassan Cecil Bangura
I am Hassan Cecil Bangura, a finance intern with eHealth Africa (eHA) in Sierra Leone. I joined eHA as an intern in January 2019. My internship here at eHA has been a learning opportunity for me, in preparation for opportunities in the future. Being an intern at eHA is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. There are several lessons I have learned from my internship experience.
I learned practical accounting skills that have added more value to me
I started my internship with the spirit to embrace new things that will positively impact my career. I am an Applied Accounting graduate from the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM), University of Sierra Leone (USL). In the classroom, I learned the theoretical aspect of being an accountant, but I lacked the practical skills. My internship with eHA has added more value to my education by giving me hands-on experience. From the first day at eHA, I have been given tasks and responsibilities that have broadened my horizon and I have now mastered tasks that I had only learned about in theory, such as bank reconciliation; periodic financial analysis to identify and resolve issues, gaps, and variances, financial planning and reporting, among many others. In practice, I can now execute a payment process, from requesting stage up until disbursement. I never would have gotten this in the classroom.
The eHA finance team is a mentoring team.
Everybody wants to be in a team where people are willing to pass on the skills they have learned. I am in the right place, given the exposure and mentorship I have received from members of the eHA finance team in Sierra Leone. This will last me a lifetime. We have built good relationships such that I can even call on anyone from the team after my internship is completed, trusting they will help in solving any problems I might have. Let me just pause for a while and appreciate the finance team for making my internship at eHA a memorable and fulfilling one.
How to build my resume. eHA is preparing me for my next job. I have learned so much and not just related to my role in the Finance team, but also on getting myself ready for future job opportunities. The culture at eHA encourages good work ethics and continuous professional growth. eHA offers free access to online courses to staff members, that allows us to continue to learn about subjects that can sharpen our skills. With this, I am convinced my internship with eHA is a springboard for larger opportunities. In addition to the online courses, sometimes teams within eHA organize workshops to allow us to learn from each other. I was fortunate to be able to participate in a Writing a Winning Curriculum Vitae (CV) and Interview Guide mini workshop organized by the Human Resources Department in Sierra Leone. That training opened my eyes to see the common mistakes people make when drafting CVs and applying for jobs. The experience I have gained with eHA is in itself a CV builder. After my internship with eHA, I am sure that I can take up any accounting role with ease.
eHA has enhanced my communication skills and increased my self-confidence.
My whole life I have felt like a shy, awkward and introverted, I didn’t feel that I had the skills required to deal with groups of people. I lacked self-confidence. But since I joined eHA, I have further developed my communication skills and increased my confidence as a result of our weekly internal finance department meetings. Each team member (yes even interns) is required to present to the team and give updates to the rest of the team about their accomplishments throughout the past week. With this weekly practice, I have gradually learned to overcome my shyness and apprehension to speak in front of groups of people. I might not be ready to speak to a stadium full of people but I certainly feel more comfortable about speaking up in larger all staff meetings.
Gaining work experience is key for boosting employability, especially as an aspiring accountant. eHA has given a truly unique opportunity to grow professionally and personally, for which I am forever grateful. I have the requisite experience to perform excellently in future accounting roles, especially within International Non-government Organizations (INGOs).