Alyssa Smith

Major: Human Development and Family Studies
Minor/option/emphasis: -- Select a Minor --
Company/Organization: Department of Health and Human Services
Company/Organization website:
Destination: Ames, Iowa
Timeframe: Spring 2023
Advisor/Coordinator Email:


I shadowed social workers who manage a diverse caseload of children and families that require ongoing services to ensure safety. I assisted in addressing the needs of children and families. This includes safety, basic needs such as food, hygiene, education, and mental health. I attended various visits to homes, schools, hospitals, and more. I transported clients, supervised family visits, and ensured the safety of the children. I conducted home visits with families unaccompanied. I assisted social workers with scanning, filing, shredding, and uploading documents to their databases. I completed child studies necessary for their licensed agencies. I attended various types of hearings and witnessed testimony. I obtained my Dependent Adult and Child Abuse Mandatory Reporter training certifications.


I gained confidence in working with children and families in such tough settings. I built many professional relationships with the social workers and supervisors. I gained the ability to discuss cases confidently and talk through situations families were in. By the end of my internship, the biggest accomplishment was the feeling I had after being told to apply/interview for an open social worker 2 position by my direct supervisor and that I would be hired right after graduation if I did.

Learning experience

I learned valuable information and gained important experience I will take with me in my future career. I learned that social work is a tough field, mentally and physically. The days are extremely long but, on many days, very rewarding. I learned how to be open and honest even though it is often not what people want to hear. I also learned that I see myself in the future working with a population of people who request services voluntarily.

What advice would you give?

I advise future interns at DHHS to understand that no two cases are the same. The families involved with DHHS are all very different from one another. I advise them to be compassionate. This is their life, and although it is an amazing learning experience for us interns, it is important to be empathic, respectful, and kind to the families. Another piece of advice would be to ask as many questions as you want! I learned from many social workers that it can take around 2-3 years for a social worker to feel comfortable and get to the point you understand the position completely.

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