In honor of Internship Awareness Month, we did a Q&A with Carolann Gregoire, Practicum Coordinator for the Social and Human Services program at Columbus State Community College.
What is the importance of an internship?
Students in professional or technical programs need hands on, field work to practice the skills and apply the knowledge they are learning in the classroom. The experiential aspect of learning helps students identify their areas of strengths and areas of improvement.
What are the main benefits both for the students and the employers?
Employers are giving back to the next generation of helpers. Social workers have a duty to help prepare upcoming members of our profession. Interns bring fresh eyes and ears to the experience. Agency staff welcome new perspectives, knowledge, and trends in practice the interns bring from the classroom.
What are some of the value that interns bring to the table?
I love the passion our interns bring to the experience. Their compassion, desire to help, and nervous excitement shows us they’re making the right career choice.
What feedback have you heard from your social work students after their experience doing an internship with Alvis?
What I hear most about internships at Alvis is the significant amount of time they can spend in direct client care. This aspect of practicum is crucial. We and the students are very appreciative of the ample opportunity to improve their helping skills.
To continue with our celebration of the social work profession this March, we sat down with Carolann Gregoire, Practicum Coordinator for the Social and Human Services Program at the Columbus State Community College. She has been working as a social worker for decades and has received both her Bachelors and Master’s degrees in Social Work from the University of Kansas, which is her home state. In order to learn more about her work, we did a Q&A session with Carolann! Read on and watch the video series to see what this industry veteran has to say about the ins and outs of her practice!
You place students in internships. What is the value of practicum?
I work with students before they go into practicum and also while they are in practicum. I would say that one of the biggest challenges that the students experience is not fully understanding what it means actually to work with a client face to face, within an agency structure. That is why we do practicums, because they can have a world of information that they receive in the classroom, which they need and they embrace intellectually, and even on a heart level; but it’s very different than when you are actually in the same room with a client who is sharing their story and looking to you for help. It’s a very humbling experience. If it’s your 1st time in trying to be helpful with a client it takes practice and takes confidence before you feel like that what you know intellectually is something you can translate into practice.
Top 3 Skills
What are the reasons most students select a career in Social Work?
I think Social Workers choose this field in part because of some personal experiences, and it’s important whatever that personal experience is that we have worked with it sufficiently so that we can use it, rather than it using us, and really interfering with the work that we do with clients. So there is a fine line when you feel like you are on the other side of the experience. For me, it was a couple of things that shaped how I looked at the world. Experiences in my life that I had to work with on a heart level before I could really be present with myself and be present for others.
What do you believe to be the Social Workers biggest challenges?
I think for a recent graduate, you need an understanding of how an agency operates and how that impacts what they can actually do with a client. Because when they are in the classroom, it is a lot of information that is very helpful but until you start experiencing it, you don’t fully understand all the different influences that impact what you going get to do with a client. I try to prepare new folks in the field for that thought of “maybe this is not exactly what I thought it was going to be”. There can be barriers to providing good care that come from stigma from society, from lack of funding, lack of resources and I don’t think you really know what that feels like and how it really does impact what you are doing with a client until you are doing it.
Alvis impact in the community
Alvis commends social workers for going above and beyond to help those in need, whether it be through direct support or through providing resources that find solutions to complex problems. Their dedication to bettering their community facilitates healthier relationships, lifestyles, and practices that may not have been a possibility without this aid. Make sure to stay tuned in to our social media and blog this month to see some great interviews with social work leaders in the community offering direct insight on the who’s and what’s of the profession!
Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.