By Taiba Habeeb

The Chief Executive, my colleague, Mukhtar and I on a work trip.

I remember being asked during my interview for the position of an Executive Assistant to the  Chief Executive Officer of Connected Development;  “Can you be an assistant to a sedulous, diligent and functional boss?’ Being the self assured person I am, I thought to myself  ‘how difficult can it be?’ So I answered YES! With my full chest. Boy, did I know what was in front of me.

My first days at CODE were anxiety and insha allah. As a reserved person, being around mostly boisterous, energetic and passionate young people was overwhelming. At some point, I felt like a misfit, greatly judged for my reserved nature, which caused more anxiety and detachment on my part.

 I remember saying to myself “ these guys missed out on a key requirement of being a part of the organisation during my interview; outgoing”. I’m not going to lie, I struggled trying to be up to par. It was not that I was incapable, but that I lacked information. 

My past experiences helped with my surface knowledge of the NGO sector, but this one was different. At CODE, I began to consciously understanding my colleagues as people who could help me relate easier with them, understanding my boss as a person, and his role as the Chief Executive, the organization’s mission; integrating all three to better understand my role. Doing this created a pattern in my mind that eased my anxiety and detachment.

I’ve been 4 months but I can tell CODE is an organization that believes highly in the resourcefulness of people. Investing in its people is one of her core values and it is truly admirable. Our work, though challenging, allows individuals to freely express themselves; no idea is too silly to be brought to the table. This is an encouraging work culture because staff feel acknowledged and valued.

Do I still feel overwhelmed? Yes, sometimes. Do I understand the system better? Yes, faster than I envisaged. Am I less reserved? Not exactly. Introversion is my inherent nature, it is not a disability and as a regard does not limit my ability to work with the team, except I work a little more quietly. LOL!

CODE is a youth-led Organisation with vibrant a team, irrespective backgrounds, experiences and personalities, who are willing and committed to contributing their own part to achieving the mission of the organisation.

Overall, my experience is one with no destination. Be it four months or two years, my CODEd experience is one that will definitely serve a continual purpose. My boss once told me to “always explore the best of everything life offers you.” That is exactly what I’m doing; EXPLORING!

Connected Development is an initiative that is passionate about empowering marginalised communities.

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