An Internship in three phases
Paulina Smietanka QC ’14 and Jim Stellar
This is a bit of a different post. Paulina, a communication sciences and disorders student in her sophomore year, arranged an internship for herself for the month of January. We agreed that she would write three posts, Before, During, and After. Those files are attached. We would like you to read them now and do so in that order.
Notice first that the After statement is different from the rest. It is longer, more detailed, and more powerful. We think that this represents two factors. First, it is just easier to write about something in reflection after it is over considering that all the variables are set. While there is still plenty to learn by thinking about the experience, the experience itself does not change. When one is writing in a Before or During condition, one never knows what will happen next that will change what one has just written. Second, the intern has now had the maturing effect of the experience itself. This maturing effect occurs in a general way, although a month is not much when consider against 19 years of months. The effect also occurs in the field itself. When done properly (e.g. the intern does not just get coffee and watch others), the intern masters some aspect of the profession or the field and gains confidence. The communication sciences and disorders field offers a variety of work settings and Paulina chose to intern at a school setting which enabled her to attain teaching skills too.
Often the experience is with others in the field whether it is with co-workers, customers, clients or patients…. One learns how to handle these professional interactions and when that happens one begins to notice more how the field applies. Think back to when you first learned to drive. You were so scared about not hitting anything or anyone that you did not notice the scenery. Now that you drive with mastery, you can afford to notice what is flying by in the car windows. The same is true here. What is really great is that then the college student brings that back to campus to more actively and more passionately (it is hoped) engage the academic program and the faculty. Such internships look good on the resume, but the real benefit may be this factor. An increased passion for learning in students results in increased learning. Paulina has mentioned that when she is seated in a classroom, she is not the same. She feels as though practical work and school work has placed her at an advantage. Paulina is now able to compare what she has learned during the intern, what she has learned in school, and what she continues to learn in school. This allows her to develop her own techniques as a speech-language pathologist in the making.
Another point we want to make is that so much of these operations happen below the surface of awareness. Even if one is aware of their growing maturity as a speech counselor, one is typically unaware of many aspects of what that means. Try to describe to someone how one rides a bicycle. It is hard. Yet you are probably a master at riding the bike, so much so that you hardly have to think about it. This rests in what neuroscientists now are calling the hidden brain and we see it at work in fMRI brain scans. Now that Paulina has returned from the intern, she is now more intelligent and informed both consciously and subconsciously than she was previously.