One full week of our internships left- where has the time gone!? I am writing this post with mixed emotions, excited to reconnect with family and friends back home, but not ready to say goodbye to new friendships and city life. Getting to Chicago Semester was a journey in and of itself for me. Since freshman year of college, I knew that I wanted to have this internship experience but as the semester was approaching, I had second thoughts. What would the city be like? What does it mean to be an intern? How do I even begin to understand public transportation? This post is especially for those who, like myself, have anxious thoughts about new transitions.
Starting an internship in the city can be intimidating. One of the aspects about Chicago Semester that I have loved most is the support we receive from staff, students, and our internship supervisors. For the past few months, I have been interning at CJE SeniorLife, which is a day center for older adults who are living in the community setting. After clients arrive on the buses to our facility, we have structured activities for the day. A “typical” day at CJE includes: discussions on current events, music and art therapy activities, meals, and exercise. Older adults attend our program for a variety of reasons. Some of our clients have dementia or Parkinson’s and others do not have specific diagnoses. All clients benefit from the socialization and stimulation CJE provides and caregivers receive respite services. One of the “take aways” that I will have from this internship is that we can learn so much from clients and their individual experiences and needs.
Through my internship, I expected to become more passionate about the older population, specifically those living with dementia. While my internship did just that, learning about other students’ internships and my own experiences in the city have made me more aware of the strengths and needs of diverse groups of people. If you are even considering Chicago Semester, I encourage you to go for it. Living in the city is not always easy, but you will learn more about yourself and other people than you ever expected.
The following are a few pieces of advice I found helpful going into the professional semester:
- Have confidence in your abilities- you are not expected to be perfect, but an internship is meant to be a learning experience for YOU.
- Take a risk- consider going somewhere that will challenge you to grow as an individual.
- Find a support network- for me, this meant getting connected with a local church and other social work students.
- Explore, enjoy being where you are, and have fun!
By Kaycie Olson