Tim Arifdjanov '23 | University of Portland

Tim Arifdjanov '23

Major: English Tim Arifdjanov

EPI internship: Catholic Charities Oregon

What were your summer internship responsibilities?

I helped Catholic Charities’ Mission Integration and Development teams. One of my main responsibilities was to call donors and thank them for donating. I wasn’t looking forward to doing this initially, because I thought the calls would be awkward, and a lot of the calls were kind of awkward. But my gratitude calls ended up being fulfilling overall. People became noticeably happier on the other end when I thanked them, and it felt nice to spread happiness. I also helped plan a managers’ retreat for Catholic Charities’ program managers, and I participated in the retreat. I was surprised to be planning a retreat for a company, because I don’t think many companies regularly hold retreats like Catholic Charities does. But planning and being on the retreat was a great experience. The retreat was in the Grotto, and it was nice to spend a day there in reflection. Another of my projects was to sort Catholic Charities’ internship roles to see which ones were still recruiting and make a master calendar. I think I helped with the business side of Catholic Charities in this role, helping with organization.

How did you find out about the Ethics and the Professions Internship program, and why did you apply?

I found out about this internship via Handshake. It was under “Popular Internships for Your Major.” I applied because I have an interest in ethics and wanted an internship where I could do good work. I have always been someone who enjoys thinking about how I can live a good life and do the right thing. This internship fit right into that, so I knew it would be something I enjoyed, and it was an experience I wanted to be a part of. Also, the partner organizations also all seemed to be doing good things for our community, and in my career I want to do work that is good for others. This seemed like a unique internship where I could do good work.

What did you learn?

The most valuable thing I learned was what a professional atmosphere was like. I wasn’t in-person, but the atmosphere during our Teams meetings or even how people sent emails to each other was different than what I was used to. It wasn’t that people were serious all the time, but there was an air of professionalism in all the ways people interacted. So I know what to expect when I start working, and I’ll be familiar with the general atmosphere of companies. I also learned how to use some useful business programs, like Salesforce, Cervis, and Excel, which will come in handy if and when I use these programs later in life. I learned some other general business skills as well, like how to balance eating and talking during business lunches, that I’m sure will be helpful when I start my career. I’m much more comfortable with cold-calling people, too, so if I ever work a job that calls for that I’ll be able to do it. Overall, I’ve got a much better feel of what the professional world looks like and what it feels like to work for a charity, which has taken away a lot of uncertainty about what life after graduation will look like.

What was your favorite moment as an intern?

It’s hard to pick one favorite moment, but I think of a moment during the manager’s retreat in the Grotto. We had free time after lunch in the retreat, and I was walking in the Grotto’s upper gardens, which has tons of beautiful statues and a beautiful prayer chapel that overlooks Portland. I felt spiritually fulfilled and peaceful walking around. Admiring the art, I lost track of time and ended up coming back from the break pretty late. But my supervisor Sarah just laughed off me coming back late, and I was glad that it wasn’t a big deal. What stands out to me is the peacefulness I felt in the Grotto, and then the gracious forgiveness once I came back late.

Why do you believe internships are important for undergraduate students?

I think it’s important to get real-world experience and feel what it’s like to work a job. A lot of skills translate from school to a job, but there’s no replacement for actually working a job. What’s nice about internships is that you’re doing work that resembles what a career would look like, so it’s more analogous to working as an adult, and you have the opportunity to do meaningful work.

What tips do you have for students wanting an internship?

I would say to find an internship that genuinely interests you, because I think that will come through in your application and interview. Be honest with yourself and find one that intersects with your interests and skills, and don’t just apply for everything.

What other experiences have made your time at UP unique?

Campus Ministry is one thing that has made my time at UP unique. There aren’t many other schools that offer small faith-based groups, faith-themes barbeques, and everything else cool that Campus Ministry does. It’s also been a blessing to serve in roles like Faith and Formation Ambassador where I can grow my faith in classes and help with faith life at UP. My dorm, Villa Maria, has also made my time here unique. Not many other dorms have drum squads that play at soccer games. Villa also has a uniquely close community and I feel supported here.

How did this internship influence how you will approach your plans after graduation?

I knew before my internship that I wanted to do charitable work, specifically poverty law. I felt fulfilled working for Catholic Charities’ mission, so I know I will be happy doing my vocational plans. This internship didn’t change my career interests, but it confirmed to me that I am heading in the right direction.

I learned that the people around me are very wise, so I should ask for advice. I also learned that I can serve others in a variety of roles. I had a conversation with Catholic Charities’ CFO, and I learned from her that even in a career like accounting, there are paths in charitable work and ways to use those skills for the good of others. I don’t think that conversation will directly change my career plans, but it opened my eyes to the many different avenues to helping others.

Anything else you would like to add?

EPI is a great internship run by great people!