Although my time at my internship has come to an end, I know that my experience and skills that I’ve developed there will continue to help me throughout my life. I had a final discussion with my boss while completing my performance evolution about my time there, how I did, what I’ve learned, etc. and overall, she said she is very proud of my work. Going into my internship, I was very nervous because I had never done anything like this before. When I got my assignment that I would be working at a company that specializes in helping those with intellectual disabilities, I was definitely surprised. I am a psychology major, but I don’t have any intention on becoming a psychologist or to work in a group therapeutic setting. I’ve worked in large group settings before, and I didn’t like how difficult it was to get to know people one-on-one and it felt more impersonal. I also don’t have any experience working with people with intellectual disabilities. Overall, I was pretty hesitant going into my internship. I still remember on my first day, watching the psychologist work with a patient while also talking about myself a bit she said to me, “you don’t seem very compassionate”. Of course, that isn’t something rude to say in Spanish culture, but it definitely scared me. I went home and started questioning if I should try to switch jobs or not. Now, at the end of my time, it’s funny because she told me that my biggest strengths at this job was my ability to be caring and compassionate to the patients. That I have gotten to know each of them very well and that I know how to adapt to the needs of each of them. She mentioned one specific patient, Montse, who I would help eat lunch every day. She has a syndrome that affects her motor control, so she can’t eat alone. She also cannot talk. During one of my last days, Montse was struggling a lot. She was super nervous all day and couldn’t seem to relax. We took her into the sensory room to try to calm her down a lot and take her away from some of the stimulation in the other room. The whole time she stayed next to me, leaning against me or hugging me, because she felt comfortable with me. She finally began relaxing. This was a moment, my boss said, in which she could really see that not only had I become more comfortable with the patients but also that they have begun trusting me and have become more comfortable with me as well. That there are times when some patients are looking for me/to me for help and support. I am proud of the ways that I’ve grown at my job and I know I’m going to miss the patients that I’ve grown close to. The interesting thing about the type of job that I worked at is that it has affected me personally just as much as it has affected me professionally. I’ve gained confidence in my ability to work independently and developed my ability to adapt professionally.
When it comes to how I will utilize what I’ve learned to help me at Pitt and in the future, I’m not entirely sure yet. I know the skills I’ve developed will help me a lot, but it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how in this moment. I currently work at UPMC in the volunteer services department, and I’ve thought about transferring to Western Psychiatric and working as a student behavioral associate, so if I were to apply, I know my experience here would help me stand out as an applicant. It would also make the transition to that job a lot easier, since I have already worked in a similar in-patient setting in which I was not only giving physical support, but also mental/emotional support as well. I also think that it will help me with my grad school applications, as I have known for a long time that I will be continuing to pursue higher education. If I do end up studying Genetic Counseling, this experience will help me greatly on the applications, as they are always looking for people who have experience with counseling and giving crisis-support. I have also, of course, greatly developed my Spanish speaking abilities. Although I wouldn’t call myself fluent (or even close to), I am able to understand much more and can express my thoughts much more easily and fluidly. The biggest development in my Spanish is that I am able to adapt quickly while speaking. If there is a word that I don’t know/can’t remember, I don’t sit there saying “uh…uh…no sé la palabra”, instead I’m able to rephrase what I’m saying in a way that I can actually say without getting stuck for too long. For example, I was talking about how I haven’t slept well recently because of the heat and how going for a walk outside might help me be more awake. I don’t know how to say be more awake in Spanish, but instead of fumbling around trying to figure it out, I quickly adapted and changed it to be less tired.
I’m definitely sad that my time here has come to an end, but I’m excited to see how it will help me in the future.