To be quite frank, it happened to me on a whim. I was simply looking for something to do. I knew that I wanted to engage in some sort of academic pursuit over the summer, but I wasn’t really sure what. Fortunately, I started using the CareerLink website from the Center for Internships and Career Placement. I didn’t know if anything would come of it, but I knew that I wanted to look.
To my surprise, I found something. There was a residential center for troubled and aggressive youth, many of whom had a history of previous trauma, and it was right near my house. These kids had difficulty interacting socially, and many of them had mental illnesses and needed professional support. The majority of clients lived on the property, but many of them went to local public schools. Almost all of them were in DCF custody and had long histories of being mistreated by the adults who were supposed to care about them. The institution provided them with a home and mental health resources. I was offered to work at this institution for my internship and words cannot describe how much this meant to me.
Before starting, I underwent approximately 78 hours of training. I am now certified in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) and Adult and Child First Aid and CPR because of my internship. However, this experience was more than just building a resume.
After my training, I was working in-person with these children and teenagers in the role of a Direct Care Counselor. My responsibilities were to be a stable and constant person, as well as to facilitate healthy and engaging day-to-day activities. Working with these youths was one of the most life-changing opportunities that I have ever experienced. I really built close interpersonal relationships with the clients to facilitate their therapy and personal growth. I learned patience, empathy, and most certainly a sense of humor. There were definitely some tough times, especially those involving physical restraints, but overall I know that I had a positive impact on these kids.
And they certainly made one on me, too.