Major: Applied Psychology
Organization Interned For: Friend’s Way (Non-Profit Organization)
Hometown: Winchester, MA
AC: What was your favorite aspect of your internship? What made your internship unique?
FM: My favorite aspect of my internship would definitely be helping children work through their death loss by facilitating group discussions. Although most individuals can never truly get over the death of a loved one, many are able to find ways to cope with the social, emotional, and physical issues the come along with the loss. At my internship, I was able to help kids from ages 3-18 use many of these coping mechanisms in hope to find some relief from the burden of bereavement. I was able to lead group discussions and activities that encouraged children to talk about their loss in a supportive and friendly setting. Having the ability to watch the children gain support from the peers in their group and make progress along their bereavement journey is very rewarding for me. Although hearing each child’s story can be truly heartbreaking, knowing that you have the power to possibly make a difference in their lives is a great feeling.
I feel as though my internship was unique because I was able to take the lead as a facilitator of my own group of children. I was placed into the pre-teen group of 10-13 year olds, which was a very good fit. I was able to quickly take a leadership position in the group and build a trusting relationship with both the children and the other facilitator. I feel that at if I were in a different position I would not have had the opportunity to take on such an important role with so much responsibility.
AC: What were your day-to-day duties as an intern?
FM: I did about 10-12 hours of work per week at Friend’s Way. This was split up between a 4 hour group session once a week during which I would meet with the team of facilitators and discuss any new or current cases, prepare and facilitate a group of middle school aged children in their discussions about their loss, and then do a post-group meeting with the team to sum up the night. I also came into the office for an additional 3-4 hours, once a week, to help my supervisor prepare for the upcoming group nights. I would read through books, look up articles, prepare for crafts, and brainstorm ideas for group meetings. The remainder of my internship hours were spent at home researching for future meetings, creating article databases for my supervisor, and watching videos he provided me in order to gain further insight on the topic of child bereavement.
AC: What did you learn in your internship and what challenges did you overcome through these learning experiences?
FM: One of the most important lessons I learned from my internship was the importance of sensitivity and support. I am interested in a career in the field of psychology where I will be able to work with individuals who struggle with a variety of mental and emotional problems. This was and is an important realization for my future career. At first, I did not know how to react to the children’s stories and commentary. However, over time I learned that the best way to help them is to listen and respond with sensitivity to their issues. Many of these children feel comforted in the fact that they have somebody who they can rely on to listen to what they have to say without judging them or making their problem feel unimportant. I’d say that the true challenge of my position was learning to cope with the stress that comes from the burden of these children’s stories, as well as leaving my own problems at home when I stepped through the door.
AC: How did you find this internship?
FM: I found the internship through researching facilities in Rhode Island. There is a website that links all counseling and support programs in the state of Rhode Island. I emailed and sent resumes to many of these programs. Friend’s Way got back to me pretty quickly and it ended up being the right fit. I was my supervisor’s first intern, so I somewhat created the position myself. He is now hoping to fill it again with a student in the coming fall.
AC: Which classes at Bryant would you say helped you to be a successful intern?
FM: Many of my psychology classes gave me the knowledge I needed to understand the process of bereavement and facilitating group sessions. (Applied Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Health Psychology, Social Psychology etc.) In addition, Management and Business classes may have helped with the way I presented myself, my work ethic, etc.
AC: What would be your advice to any undergraduate studying psychology?
FM: If there is an undergraduate interested in psychology, I would tell them to really think about what aspects of the field they are attracted to. Psychology is a very broad field with many different career paths spanning from clinical counseling to human resources management. It is important to zero in on what interests you the most, and focus your efforts on finding an internship or a job that may lead you in the right direction towards success in something you really want to do.