On May 23, 2012, CAIR-Chicago’s internship program, which has had 380 interns in the past seven years, held an orientation for all its departments simultaneously for the first time. There are six departments within CAIR-Chicago, all of which offer internship programs every winter, spring, summer and fall. These departments are communications, civil rights, government affairs, operations, outreach and executive.
In the past, the orientation to the internship program at CAIR-Chicago was individualized. During the summer 2012 orientation, interns from other departments were able to meet each other and other department heads even if they would not necessarily be working closely with them. Moreover, this type of orientation is more efficient than the non-standardized ones interns received in years past.
During the first half of orientation, interns watched two of CAIR-Chicago’s most recent documentaries, played icebreakers, socialized with one another over lunch, learned office regulations and listened to a motivational speech by Executive Director Ahmed Rehab. The second half of the day was devoted to each department’s specific orientation with its interns.
Outreach Coordinator Gerald Hankerson said he has already seen current interns demonstrating the knowledge of what was imparted on them at the orientation. He heard several non-communications interns having a conversation about ideas for articles they thought should be written for the Chicago Monitor, which is CAIR-Chicago’s website for monitoring media, especially as it relates to biased portrayals of Muslims and Islam.
The current class of 33 summer interns is the biggest CAIR-Chicago has had. Including staff members, the office will log approximately 1000 hours a week this summer. “Community members should definitely take solace in the fact that this team is working on behalf of civil rights and advocacy,” Hankerson said.