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Students' Previous Internships

Section 1

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The Alliance for Human Services in Lake County

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(L-R: Nicole Robinson (sophomore), John Shustitzky, Kelly Gaul (sophomore), Kristina Ring (junior)

Dr. John Shustitzky selected three psychology students to participate in a summer internship program from June – August 2014 at The Alliance for Human Services in Lake County.  

He met with the interns for a pre-service orientation and on an ongoing basis. In addition, he provided background information on nonprofit organizations, working in human services organizations, career opportunities in human services organizations, and the ways that the students could apply their prior course work at their internship sites (i.e. child psychology, community psychology, etc.)

After hearing presentations from four potential internship sites, the interns selected three for their summer experiences:

  • The Boys and Girls Club of Lake County
  • Beacon Place, a community youth center in Waukegan, IL.
  • PADS Lake County, a comprehensive homelessness services organization

The interns also attended two meetings of RESPOND, a networking group for front-line human services workers in the Waukegan, North Chicago and Zion Communities, and assisted Dr. Shustitzky in leading part of an Alliance for Human Services Annual Meeting. At this annual meeting, the interns coordinated small group discussions focusing on community needs and helped collect data that will be part of a comprehensive community development needs assessment document.

Below are responses submitted by each of the three interns to a series of questions about their experiences. These are their verbatim responses and should be considered direct quotes.

  • Briefly describe your assignments with each of the 3-4 organizations you worked with this summer.

Nicole: My assignments were to commit one day a week to each organization and shadow the individuals at the sites. At the Boys and Girls Club, I aided fellow staff in supervising and teaching the children in an academic but appealing manner. I mostly worked in the classrooms in the mornings and in the afternoons I would interact with and entertain the children outside. At PADS, I assisted in the assessment center by dealing directly with clients, though most often working one on one with the directors of the organization. At Safe Haven, I had the privilege to shadow a clinical social worker all the while meeting and speaking with some of his clients and understanding more of the field of social work.

Kristina: My work at the Boys & Girls Club was aimed towards the children and creating a positive atmosphere for them to learn and grow. My work with Beacon Place was similarly aimed towards children and providing them with a safe environment full of learning opportunities. I assisted with the activities throughout the day and had the chance to speak with many of the children about the impact of Beacon Place on their lives. At PADS, I was immersed in a completely new environment and learned about a different culture of people. I learned about the inner workings of PADS and have seen the impact that this organization has on people’s lives.

Kelly:  One of the main assignments I worked on at Beacon Place was helping to interview the kids. Being a very involved summer feeding program, Beacon Place offers many things for the children to do after they eat during program hours. Kids are provided with the opportunity to play sports, board games, with toys, and create different organized crafts. However, we had to wonder what the kids might be doing if they were not at Beacon Place, what they really liked about the Beacon Place and how they had initially heard about the program. Therefore, when there was time in-between organizing crafts and playing with the kids, Kristina and I would ask the kids questions about the program. Unsurprisingly, while a good amount of kids were fairly active, many reported that they would probably be watching TV or playing videogames had they not been at Beacon Place where they could be active and have fun.

At Boys and Girls Club I had mainly helped by assisting the kids in their organized tasks or being a buddy that was there to listen and play with them. For the last two weeks of my internship I was also able to visit the teens’ center where I got to learn and help out with the teen’s programming and talk with some of the kids about their future plans.

With PADS of Lake County I was able to shadow the client advocates (Bill and Veronica) and clinical social worker (Tom) with the Safe Haven program while also learning about PADS’ general client intake process. I was also given the opportunity to interview some of the clients on their experiences, help advertise PADS’ new location and assist in organizing some excel files.

  • Did the internship experience influence the direction of your academic career (changed your field of interest in psychology) and/or future professional goals?

Nicole:  This internship experience has been an amazing informative journey into the life of non-profit organizations. Considering the fact I have just finished my freshman year, and am setting my sights on becoming a clinical psychologist, though there is still much time before I solidify my future plans. Without this opportunity, I would have never considered a future in that field and while my professional goals have not shifted, I am keeping the non-profit world in my field of view. However, given the opportunity to work so closely with the children at the Boys and Girls Club, I feel as though it has sparked a passion to make children my population of choice to work with.

Kristina:  This internship has taught me a great deal about how non-profits work and the impact that they have on people in my county. After working with these organizations, my career goals have been reinforced in the way of reassuring my plans to work with underprivileged children. Although I am not one hundred percent sure how I want to fulfill this goal, I know that it is what I want to do. The internship has also helped me by introducing me to many knowledgeable professionals and resources, which I would not have learned about without this internship.

Kelly:  Interning with the Alliance for Human Services and several of its non-profit organizations gave me just the insight I had been searching for. I’ve wanted to be a clinical/community psychologist for a while but it was hard for me to know whether or not the profession was really for me or what clientele I would want to work with. Between Beacon Place, Boys and Girls Club, and PADS I was able to realize what population I felt most comfortable with and where I could best utilize my strengths. Shadowing Tom from PADS was especially eye-opening in the sense that I got a feel for what it would be like to work with clients who have severe mental disorders and little to no insight into their illness.

  • What is your favorite take-away experience from the summer internship?

Nicole:  This internship has enriched my life in more ways than I can count. The individuals I’ve met and the connections that I’ve forged have made the non-profit life seem so ideal and captivating. So while it is hard to pick a favorite experience, my time spent at the Boys and Girls Club has been challenging yet inexplicably rewarding. To bring happiness to a child’s day and to relieve stress from a staff’s hectic class if even for a small amount of time have been my favorite take-aways from the internship.

Kristina:  The most influential aspect of this internship is the people I have worked with. It is inspiring to see so many people who have devoted their lives to helping others. Beacon Place has truly inspired me because all of the workers are volunteers who have devoted their time to an organization that they believe is making a major impact. The young volunteers there also inspire me because they care so much for the children who come to the program

Kelly:  It’s hard for me to name a favorite experience, I really learned a lot from getting to shadow and talk with Tom, but I also enjoyed learning about and being a part of the Beacon Place summer feeding program. Beacon Place had really amazed me with the amount of programming and support from community they had created in just a little over a year of action. Everyone really wanted the best for the kids and it showed through the volunteers’ work ethic and the obvious excitement each child displayed waiting in line to get their lunches. It felt incredible to be a part of a program that was doing so much good. Meeting with Tom the couple times I did was also a highlight of mine because it was so informative and great to learn about his personal experience in a similar field. He was also able to point me in the direction of some great sources so that I could continue to stay up to date with current research.

  • What information would you share with other psychology students who are contemplating a summer 2015 internship?

Nicole:  Be motivated, committed, and fearless! My daily commute to the internship was two hours each way, but my commitment to gain a new experience in the field of psychology was all the motivation I needed. Starting a new position in an unfamiliar location with new people can be overwhelming and sometimes unnerving but being fearless and pursuing something that you are passionate about will be entirely worth it. My best advice to anyone contemplating an internship is to just go through with it. It’s unhindered experience in a field to gain depth, knowledge and understanding about whether or not that career path is suitable for you.

Kristina:  This is my second summer having an internship, and I highly recommend it. I have gained experiences I never would have had without an internship experiences, and the people I have built relationships with have been extremely helpful. This is one of the few times in life where students can have an opportunity to take an internship solely to gain experience, and I think that is an opportunity that should not be missed.

Kelly:  Concluding my Internship with the Alliance for Human Services, I would have to say that this was an incredibly unique experience that I’m not sure I would have been able to get anywhere else. The internship was well worth all of the effort put into it and I’m so glad that I got to be a part of the programs. If you are considering a 2015 summer internship, I would definitely suggest thinking about applying for this one if you live in or very close to Lake County in Illinois and are interested in working within your community. Otherwise, I would suggest trying to intern for some sort of coalition that can connect you to many different resources and services. However, it’s really best that you find an internship that is going to give you the most exposure for what you think you want to do with your degree in the future. My experience with all of the non-profits I worked with helped me solidify the path I intended to take in the future which I really couldn’t be more grateful for.  

John Shustitzky earned a B.S. degree in psychology (1973) and a master’s degree (1975) and Ph.D. (1979) in Counseling Psychology from the College of Education. Shustitzky spent his career serving two types of organizations:  nonprofit community mental health and social services organizations, and institutions of higher learning. He is currently serving as the Chief Executive Officer of The Alliance for Human Services, a group of twenty-seven (27) nonprofit and governmental organizations in Lake County, IL that provide services n the areas of mental health, primary healthcare and social services.  For most of his career, Shustitzky has served in senior leadership roles within mental health programs in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Oregon. He is also a member of the faculty of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, with an appointment as a Professor in the Clinical Psychology department, teaching doctoral students and supervising dissertation research.

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