I've worked two weeks at my intern placement through Arcadia's Sydney Internship Program Summer and so far it's been a great, hands-on experience. Arcadia's staff did a wonderful job connecting me to an internship that directly correlates to my major, interests me on a personal level, AND helps me gain professional skills. As a student of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work, I know that not every internship allows for the opportunity to get into cases for confidentiality reasons. The laws are different here in Australia and while I'm clearly not going around giving names, identifies or private information to unauthorized personnel, I have had the opportunity to sit in on group therapies, speak directly with clients and ask as many questions as I can. Part of my orientation has included visiting the main facility which includes detox, rehab and after care. My supervisor has been helpful in arranging days (since the center is an hour away from my workplace at admissions) with the most activities.
Some things I've worked on at the admissions office include: conducting assessments, filing paperwork, answering phone calls with inquiries about the programs and learning as much as I can. My supervisor even took the time this week to address to both myself and the other intern the difference between the mechanics of a phone call assessment and the empathy of one. Yes, we will ask you about your drug use but that does not mean we need to do it in a rote way. One of the most powerful things my supervisor said during this training was that you may be the first person that the client has ever spoken with about their problem with drugs or alcohol. It's incredible to think that by providing a safe place from the start of my phone calls, I could help a client get the treatment they need and deserve.
My work schedule is fairly consistent with only a few extended hours due to the orientation portion and the main center. It's awesome being out and about in Sydney, working and then coming back to our apartment at the end of the day to catch up with my friends in the program over a nice glass of wine. Everyone's placement is so different from drugs/alcohol to public welfare (homelessness) to fitness clubs to accounting to graphic designers. Everyone has a story to share that's for sure. The flexibility of our accommodation here and our work-week schedule does give me the vibe of living in Sydney while providing me the leisure time to actually see the city. And man, it's a lovely one.
Michelle Handy is a student at Gwynedd Mercy University and is blogging from her summer abroad with the Sydney Internship Program Summer in Sydney, Australia.