Your internship in the Human Services field will might likely be the first time you have the opportunity to apply the techniques you have learned. It is the "real world" though, and the only way to truly experience it is to be involved in it. HSCareers.com has compiled information to ready you for your intership. We will continue to add additional information as we continue to hear your requests!
Here are a few tips to help you have a rewarding and educational Internship:
1). Before you begin to contact agencies about their Internship programs, make sure you know what type of clients they serve. You want to be sure the experience is what you are ready for. If you know what type of population you would like to work with after graduating, great, you have done your research. But, if you are still open to the direction you might take, be sure you know what type of issues you would face at different agencies. Keep in mind that just because you have chosen this wonderful, rewarding field, you are going to be uncomfortable in some situations.
You may also want to know more about the agency such as funding sources and number of employees.
2). Set your personal goals. You will obviously have criteria to meet for school requirements, but you will want to know what you want to accomplish personally. Make sure these goals are realistic, Internships are typically not that long, so don't set your self up for disappointment.
3). If possible, find an agency that has a formalized internship program. This will benefit you because they have had other interns and most likely, a good, structured program in place. You will have a supervisor that oversees the interns and would be your school instructor's contact as well. When you meet with the intern supervisor, you will hear what experiences the interns in their program gain and you can also ask questions and share your internship goals.
4). Once you find the perfect Internship, set up a meeting schedule with your supervisor when you begin. Make sure you have an opportunity to let them know how your experience is going. Your supervisor will also need to know how they can further assist you in your learning experience. Always make sure to listen. You will learn a lot from the employees working at the agency.
5). This may be your first experience actually working with clients and your first experience in setting your boundaries. This includes knowing your limits in sharing personal information. Depending on the population, they can be manipulative but remember to always be professional. Setting boundaries also includes not getting too emotionally involved. This may be difficult at first but……You also need to remember that the clients may not like you. You may be suggesting some life changes to them that they may not agree with. Your job is to help them without worrying about being liked.
6). Do not act like you know everything. It is one thing to recite from your text book but remember, you are working with professionals who have been in the field. You will learn more from practical experience than from any amount of books.
7). Take every opportunity you have to attend agency meetings, fund raising events and conferences. Some board meetings and staff meeting may be closed due to sensitive issues but ask your supervisor to let you know when you could sit in on one. You may have an opportunity to sit in on a Grant writing meeting or participate in a fund raising brainstorming meeting.