Hello again, this is Joan. With our semester coming to an end, I would like to offer some advice for future interns. From the HELP internship and my previous internship at Glenmere Assisted Living, I have learned a lot about myself as an individual and as a professional. At the start of something new, it is normal to be nervous and anxious when you don't know what will happen next. Here are some things I have learned to help make the intersnhip experience less anxiety-provoking and more useful:
First, always ask questions! You want to make sure that you and your supervisor have the same set of expectations, and that all directions are clear. When I first started making visits with HELP, I sometimes found it awkward and hard to figure out what to say next. I asked my supervisor, Peggy, and she walked me through it. Whenever I have been unsure of something, I have tried to make a point of asking Peggy or someone else on the floor if I don't have time to ask Peggy. I learned the hard way that it's never a good idea to guess when you're unsure, especially when patients are involved. Even if you think you know what you're doing, it's important to just ask questions and solidify your expectations throughout your internship.
Second, use the opportunity to network! At both of my internships, I have tried to take time to talk to people in my field that have the jobs that I want to have. I have found that most people are willing to sit down and talk about what their jobs are like and what training they had. I have made wonderful connections with people like the Recreation Therapist, nurses, doctors, and social workers who work with the geriatric population. They have given me honest feedback and encouragement for my future, and it's always nice to hear someone's personal experience to see if the career you want is really as wonderful as it sounds on paper. I also know that I will be able to use a lot of these connections for letters of reccommendation and future job opportunities.
Lastly, take it one day at a time. Some days will be overwhelming, especially at the beginning of the internship when you are still learning the ropes. When I have a particularly hard day with patients, I try to take a deep breath and re-focus on the reason I am there. In our case with the HELP internship, we always need to put the patients first and remember that what we are doing is making a difference, even if someone doesn't seem particularly thrilled with our visits. For every orniary patient there are so many more patients that love and enjoy the service we provide. When things get tough, you can't give up. Ask for help, look for support from your supervisor and coworkers, and remember why you are there.
Between Alex and myself, we have completed four internships working with the older adult population. We agree that these experiences have been much more helpful to us than most classes. Hands-on learning in your field of interest is the best way to find out how well suited you are for your desired career. I always reccommend internships to upperclassmen because it is truly an uinforgettable and incredibly helpful experience if you take full advantage of the opportunity. I am forever grateful for the experience I have had interning with HELP, and I know that the connections I have made will continue to help me both personally and professionally.