Past Interns

ASU Psychology Clinic

Kevin Hecht reported:

I want to start by saying that I am genuinely grateful for the opportunity that was presented to me this semester; it has been a superb experience. Being able to observe a clinic operate, as well as work beside the graduate students has been an invaluable resource. It has proved helpful within my education and has also led me to several future educational goals that would have been fairly thorny to make devoid of this opportunity. During my time here at the Appalachian State University Psychology Clinic, I have been able to cultivate my knowledge of psychology, in addition to enhancing my knowledge of working within a professional setting. Some of the things that fostered growth for me within the field of psychology during my time here include being able to observe a battery of psychological assessments, sit in on staff meetings, and watch a handful of academic coaching sessions.

Another aspect of the clinic that contributed to my overall experience was the staff meetings. This is where I witnessed the interwoven process of the clinician employing their knowledge and experience, as well as synthesizing the data from the psychological assessments. Due to the nature of these meetings it allowed me to hear what each graduate student was working on in depth, as well as their struggles with each client. When a graduate student flourished on a case it showed me a good practice, and when they met an obstacle I tried to learn from their mistakes. These meetings also showed me how difficult it can be to come to a diagnosis for a client, and at times the implications of these diagnoses. One thing I had not thought about before the clinic was the discussion is had with the family or client in the interpretive session. Hearing how to convey the information in lay terms with compassion is something that will be helpful to me regardless of the direction of my career path.

The few academic coaching sessions I was able to watch this semester I found to be quite interesting as well. I was unaware that academic coaching transpired at a clinic. Upon more thought though most of what a clinician does involves taking the smaller pieces of the puzzle they are trying to solve and then composing a bigger picture, and this can certainly to applied to a client's academic deficits as well. At times I even found myself utilizing some of the tips and strategies Anna was providing her client.

ASU Peer Career Internships

Kate Theall summarized her Internship at Peer Career:

I decided to continue my internship experience at Appalachian State University's Peer Career Center for Spring 2012. I have been working at Peer Career since August of 2010, and have enjoyed my time there. Peer Career has been an extremely valuable part of my undergraduate education, and I feel fortunate for having been given the opportunity to be a part of such a great organization.

The Peer Career Center provides a vital service available to every member of the student body on Appalachian State University's campus. Students seeking help choosing a major can get free support from trained staff at Peer Career. As an intern, I am trained in basic counseling skills, as well as administering career-related assessments. After interpreting results with students, I often times serve as a listening ear for students talking through major and career options. Working at Peer Career has helped me gain skills I will use in my future career as a counselor.

Peer Career has not only helped me learn how to establish relationships with new students, it has also helped me with my own personal relationships. I think I was a decent listener before I started working at Peer Career, but over time I have become a more active listener. I used to have a very bad habit of interrupting during conversations, but working with students at Peer Career has taught me to be more patient.

I have also learned not to make immediate assumptions about someone when you first meet them. Often times people are very different when I meet them in person as opposed to my preconceived notions of them. For example, I used to think that most of the students required to come into Peer Career for class assignments would not be as engaged in the career planning process as students who come in on their own volition. This is false. Some of my most engaged students have been students who were required to come to Peer Career for a class. I have learned not to project any assumptions I may have about a student when I am speaking or interacting with them. Many times assumptions can almost turn in to self-fulfilling prophecies. If I treat a student a certain way, often times they will begin to act this way. I feel like these are very important basic counseling skills to master before I enter the professional world. I recognize that I am still perfecting a lot of these things, and Peer Career has given me a safe environment to do so.

Another aspect of Peer Career I have really enjoyed is the supportive atmosphere. I have a lot of things in common with my colleagues that also staff the center, and have formed several friendships. Our supervisors encourage us to work together to solve problems with cases. I have received nothing but positive feedback and encouragement from my supervisors and fellow Peer Career Guides. This supportive environment is one of the reasons why I have been able to grow so much during my time working at Peer Career.

Our Peer Career supervisors and graduate assistants are always thinking of new ways to help Peer Career volunteers grow and acquire new skills we will use in the professional world, regardless of what career we choose. During this past semester, one of the graduate assistants recognized we had not been trained to write counseling style case notes. After each session, we are required to write a case note that describes what we did and what we learned while working with the student. Melissa, one of the graduate assistants, took it upon herself to train us in how to write case notes more consistent with case notes written in the counseling center on campus. I appreciate Melissa taking the time to teach us this new skill because I feel like it will be valuable to me should I choose to pursue a career in counseling.

Another opportunity I enjoyed through Peer Career was the chance to improve my public speaking skills. Peer Career conducts outreaches to classes, clubs, and other organizations to educate students about our services. We also do interactive group activities centered on career planning with the students during the presentation. Before my experience at Peer Career I was not a very confident public speaker. Public speaking used to make me very nervous, but now I enjoy it. Conducting the presentations in pairs with another Peer Career Guide helped me build up my confidence.

Something that I feel Peer Career lacks is advertising. I tried to remedy this during my time at Peer Career by making an updated video for the Peer Career website and participating in as many outreaches as possible. I also contacted first-year seminar teachers and freshman seminar teachers and offered to conduct Peer Career outreaches for them. Many students are confused about exactly what kind of services we offer at Peer Career, and I feel like this problem can be solved by educating as many students as possible.

I learned more about helping skills through my experience at Peer Career than I ever did in a classroom setting. Peer Career helped me identify my professional goals of pursuing a career in counseling. My colleagues and coordinators have been supportive and helpful throughout this period of personal growth and development. Peer Career has been my favorite part of my undergraduate career. I hope that my work at Peer Career has helped to improve the organization that has given me so much.

Western Youth Network

Anna Ramminger wrote about her Internship at Western Youth Network:

This summer I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to be an intern with the local non-profit Western Youth Network. This is a local organization that works with law enforcement, the local schooling system, and numerous other community venues to keep 5th through 8th graders on a successful path. Western Youth Network provides substance abuse prevention courses, parenting courses, afterschool and tutoring programs, weekend ventures and their summer program, which I was a part of. My career plan is to work with adolescents post graduation and I felt like this was a perfect spot for me to be, as I was not only helping change the lives of several children but I was able to educate myself at the same time.

When I was selected as an Intern with this program, I was told that I would be spending half of my time working with the children, and half of my time helping with some of the office work. As it turns out, there was a greater need for me in the children's daily activities and I was actually able to spend all of my time this summer working with them.

The program housed forty children this summer that were split into two different groups called tribes. Our tribe was the Wild Panthers, and we had on average 15 kids a day. Group size fluctuated all summer due to vacations, other summer camps and other various events. Since WYN is a center that aims to help at-risk children my job was more in depth than that of a normal camp counselor. Many of the children in my tribe this summer were court marshaled to partake in the program as a part of their probation or contract. Some of the kids in my tribe also had a history of heavy abuse. It was our responsibility to watch for inappropriate behavior and help correct it. For many of the children, it was teaching things as simple as personal space, when to enter a conversation if someone else is talking, or how to appropriately filter both what is being said and the tone that is being used in communication. WYN also has a zero-tolerance policy for gossiping, bullying and dating so as interns we were responsible for making sure that these rules were followed and if they were not we had to provide a consequence. In some instances, this was just a simple warning, however, if the offense was repeated or if a worse offense was committed we provided a chore, a conference or an essay assignment.

I think one of the most unique things that I was able to learn was the Love and Logic behavior management system that is utilized at WYN. It focuses on utilizing empathy and consequences to teach lessons, reduces the level of argument between guardian and child, provides for delayed consequencing and allows the child to own the problem and come up with a solution themselves. It is very unlike any style that I have seen or been taught before. I tend to utilize much more of a dictatorship style because I was raised this way, but it was interesting to see how well this style worked, especially with these at-risk children. Many of the children would completely shut down if you utilized a dictatorship style and would not only not talk to you about the issue at hand, but often tended to cause more and more problems. By the end of the summer I found myself using it more and more. I have even noticed myself utilizing this style in my recent babysitting jobs, to avoid arguing and teach lessons much more effectively.

Each week we would take the children on different outings and play games with them in the center. Through the course of the summer we went swimming numerous times, hiking, biking, both in town and on the Virginia Creeper trail, kayaking, caving, horseback riding and gardening at the local organic, Maverick Farms. We completed a few craft projects, tie-dye and painting to name a few, as well as local service projects to help aid the organizations that generously donate to WYN. Two of the service projects were gardening at Mable Elementary School and cleaning Junaluska Park. Not only were these service projects beneficial to the community, but it gave us the perfect opportunity to teach about giving back and having personal responsibility to protect the place we call home. If we were not out in town we were hanging out with the kids at the WYN center playing board games, Wii, pool, basketball or watching a movie.

One of my main internship objectives was to see how smaller non-profit organizations like WYN, interacted with their community to help better the children. Through talking to the staff members at the center I found out a great deal. As stated before staff goes to each school and provides a substance abuse prevention lesson to help teach how dangerous drugs and alcohol can be to ones future. They work with local law enforcement, who also aid in the substance abuse prevention efforts. Local community members act as mentors to children who partake in WYN's afterschool program. The main focus of these mentors is to act as a friend and a positive role model. Having this positive relationship helps to improve a child's relationships with parents, teachers and peers. It also gives the children a positive way to spend their free time, and provides an outlet to deal with daily challenges. WYN has connections with Blue Mountain Center, who I was allowed to work with the summer. This is a private practice here in Boone that taught the children what healthy friendships and relationships look like. Maverick Farms, the organic farm in Valle Crucis, as I stated earlier, is an organization that helps to teach the children about healthy living through clean food, but also demonstrates how to garden and helps the children see that they have the option to grow their own food rather than relying on purchasing it. The local Court system is connected to WYN, and uses the center as a tool to provide troubled children with a positive environment.

WYN works with the children's therapists and their in-home groups. The therapists help to keep us up to date on the child's progress and status, but also help to address inappropriate behaviors if they occur. This summer I was able to work with two different groups of In-home therapists that visit three of the children in my group weekly. These groups visited the center as a way to continue their work with the child, but to also provide us updates on the child's files, tell us what tools and skills that they have been working on, so that we could enforce and aid their process. Many of the children had a toolbox that they utilized in situations to avoid trouble. Some of these tools included removing themselves from the situation, listening to music, writing down their feelings and walking. These are tools that are commonly utilized in behavior management programs. I have had first-hand experience with these skills, with my sister, but was taught how to identify when each child was utilizing the different tools. WYN has connections with the University, both in providing volunteers, interns and tutors and in fundraising. Lastly, the organization works with the parents themselves.

This summer I was able to sit in on a few conferences where parents and therapists were present. The most severe conference that I sat in on, was a conference regarding stealing. One of the young girls at the camp stole an iPod from another camper. When asked about the iPod she lied to three different counselors regarding its whereabouts. After the completion of a bag search for all campers the iPod was in fact found in her bag. Her parents were notified as was her therapist and a conference was held to rectify the situation and to provide a punishment. She lied again about the event in front of her father and was forced to miss a day of camp and write an essay about why it is important to be responsible for ones own belongings as well as respect others property. In this particular case there was a very interesting dynamic between parent and therapist. This father was someone disconnected and it seemed as though he truly relied on the therapist to solve the issue at hand for him. It was recommended that he enroll in WYN's love and logic parenting course to help more effectively deal with he daughter. I was also able to view a few other children's files at WYN. WYN classifies children by differing levels depending on their risk status. Each file has a list of behaviors the child cannot commit and the appropriate consequence. WYN staff lays the child, these out and any other organization involved. The children this summer whose files I was able to witness were level two meaning they are at a higher level and have no tolerance for the risk behaviors, which were threatening others and physically touching others. I really liked getting to see the behind the scenes paperwork in these instances, however I wish I could have learned more about how they were set up, maybe even sat in when a contract was created.

Though I did not get to see much office work as originally planned, I did get to see a bit about fundraising. Each year the center creates an annual report full of statistics, pictures and facts about their improvement in the community that is used as a tool to promote their name and to help further the advancement of the program. I was able to help edit this form this summer into its final form that would be utilized at the "fancy lady party", which was simply a dinner party with a wealthier group of women in the community. A large part of WYN's fundraising comes from the connections that the organization has with the elite in Boone. These relationships are created and maintained by hosting dinner parties such as this with local community members who know some or what to know more about the center and by inviting families and board members to events the children put on. This summer we had three board members in attendance and the end of year party/talent show. Utilizing the Annual report at these events helps to make the relationship a more personal one, by providing pictures and documentation of the actual events that the finances go towards, but also provides a statistic that makes it easier to understand the organizations progress.

A large portion of the fundraising comes from promoting the center and getting its name out there. One of the ways this is done is by a huge community mailing of a summary of the annual report as well as a list of WYN's services. The website is constantly updated and redesigned utilizing the newest facts and pictures. Larger community organizations such as the University clubs and Greek life donate parts of their philanthropic proceeds to WYN. The most recent was Dance Marathon, which was put on by the act office. WYN also applies for numerous grants. I was able to catch a glimpse of this on my last day at WYN, as one of my supervisors was working on a bike grant to get funding to take the children next summer to the Virginia Creeper as we were able to do. This also involves a break down of expenses, statistic calculations and pictures to add a more personal touch. I was told that with larger non-profit organizations there is little contact between board and staff members, but at WYN this was not the case. The staff are just as active in meetings as are the board members, however it is the board members themselves that recruit more of the high paying donors, because of their high status within the community.

This summer was by far one of the most educational, rewarding experiences that I have been able to be a part of. I was able to see the effects of nature and nurture when they are utilized in combination, I learned a new behavior management model and was given 200 hours of hands-on experience with at-risk children. My patience was tested at times but was forced to grow as a result, which will only benefit me in the future. I was given a brief glimpse into the counseling/ therapy world, which is the venue in which I would like to work with adolescents in the future years. I learned how to identify behaviors and cater my actions to help each child succeed. I feel like I was able to complete all of my objectives in some form or another given the fluidity of my situation and am so happy to have been a part of this organization. I intend to volunteer with them more this summer and have been placed on their sub statute list for their afterschool program.