Emily Van Gorp
My responsibilities during this internship were to shadow the LFS caseworkers as they met with clients. Within those experience I took notes while I was shadowing, I assisted the caseworker in typing up reports and case notes later, and listed to the way the conversation was conducted with each client. Another responsibility I had was to do projects here and there for my site supervisor. I organized paper files, I drafted articles for a new website, I spent 25 hours doing an orientation learning from LFS, and I did other small projects that took me anywhere from one work day to three weeks.
It is hard to assess what I did as an accomplishment. I would say that I was given the task of organizing paper files that are started for each client, dating back since the start of LFS. I made sure that the papers in the files were up to date, I made sure that all papers that were necessary, legally, were present, and I got signatures for new papers that needed filed. This was a large accomplishment to finish even the first file because I had to learn the inner workings of the legal system for what was required to have in these files, how it should be organized, and dated. This was my biggest project that I worked on when I wasn't away from the office shadowing or working on more pressing projects.
I learned the very large lesson of taking time to process my feelings, emotions, and reactions. At LFS, you will be working with couples hoping to adopt and birth parents looking to place their baby for adoption. Working at any organization that provides services for these clients involves witnessing a rollercoaster of emotions from your clients. It is expected that there will be these roller coaster emotions, but I wasn't prepared for how the roller coaster would hit me. So I learned how to process what I witnessed by thinking through why I was feeling a certain way or what I could do to lessen any stress I was feeling. I also have begun to learn how to leave a situation at the office when I go home. I believe that this is a lesson I will continually grow in, so I can't say that I have actually fully learned it yet. Lastly, I learned that every single project or task that my site supervisor gave me was very important to my experience at LFS. Even the ones that took me 20 minutes, like organizing a spreadsheet or calling a local resource center. Those tasks gave me knowledge and connections at my internship.
What advice would you give?
Advice for future students in the major is that you should do the internship that focuses on the area you think you really want to work in. Human services work is tough and if you know you want to work in a specific field, then your internship is the best time to have the real, raw experience and figure out if that is actually what you want. Don't worry about finding out you dislike it and then having to stay in that internship. An internship is still an excellent way to build experience, create connections, and guide you forward after college. Best of luck finding your passion within human services!