Students who pursue the human development and family sciences (HDFS), human services option will graduate with a minimum of 390 hours of hands-on experience.
To ensure this is time well spent, HDFS Internship Coordinator Julie Graves facilitates an annual Field Education Mentor Summit.
On August 24, field mentors from 35 HDFS internship sites gathered to learn best practices and receive assistance in developing plans for their interns.
“Most practitioners in our partner organizations, while being excellent at what they do every day, are not primarily educators or trainers,” Julie says. “Research shows that these community-based partners greatly appreciate the tips and guidance we can provide for hosting an effective internship. The benefits of ‘train the trainer’ programs such as this also show up consistently in the quality of students’ field experiences.”
Internships with impact
Carol Saleta, a senior HDFS student, completed her practicum at Grace Center and is currently interning with The Springs Living. During the summit, Carol served on a panel with other students who were completing their field experiences.
Tera Stegner, director of community relations at Grace Center and a 2010 CPHHS alumna, mentored Carol has attended the summit two years in a row.
“Hearing the students’ stories reminded me how important and impactful internships are,” Tera says. “I interned at the Grace Center when I was an HDFS student, and that internship was instrumental in guiding me in my career path. I also was inspired by last year’s summit to expand Grace Center’s internship program in order to facilitate even more learning opportunities for students.”
Tera says her experience as an intern gave her insight into what she was passionate about within the field of long-term care and inspired her to mentor future interns.
Carol’s mentors are invested in her personal and professional success.
“Carol and I met weekly so I could guide her through her internship, answer any questions she had throughout the term, and support her in accomplishing the goals we set for her at the start of the internship,” Tera says.
Deirdre MacCarvill, employee development manager at The Springs Living, says she works with Carol to ensure she’s on track to meet her goals and to help her navigate life. “We want our interns to perform to their best standard,” Deirdre says. “We try to give them feedback and set performance standards for them that are challenging. We want them to grow while they are with us.”
Value of internships
Carol says her internship experiences have deepened her understanding of senior living and long-term care. “Both organizations are doing great things for seniors in ways that I did not know before,” Carol says, “I leave this internship ready to take on senior living in whatever level of care that might be.”
“You can only learn so much from a classroom setting,” Tera says. “You need to have hands-on, in-person experiences to take what you’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to discover your true niche.”
Mentors invest considerable time in managing interns, but students aren’t the only ones who benefit.
“The internship program has exceeded our expectations,” Deirdre says. “We have benefited so much from having a student work alongside us and give us feedback, as well as work on projects we otherwise wouldn’t have time to do.”
At Grace Center, Carol developed a science experiment for participants. “The participants loved it, and Carol’s activity inspired our activities coordinator to replicate it in the future,” Tera says.
Carol says she now has a more in-depth understanding of health services and care for seniors.
“Tera taught me that seniors should be encouraged to do their best and pursue exercises and social skills until they can no longer do it anymore,” Carol says. “Deirdre taught me the different levels of long-term care and how crucial it is to make sure they are receiving the care that they need and deserve at the different stages of aging.”
“I feel extremely prepared to go into the long-term care path because of these two internships,” Carol says.
Agencies that are interested in hosting an HDFS student in the future can read more about the program and contact:
Tasha Galardi, Ph.D.
HDFS Internship Coordinator