Tuesday, March 24, 2015

An Intern's Perspective

In honor of Social Worker’s Month, Children’s Aid Society is posting articles written from the perspectives of social workers at different points in their career. Meet Caleigh Alevy, a social work student at the University of Alabama. Caleigh is an intern with the Project Independence Program at Children’s Aid Society. Read what she is learning about social work while serving clients at CAS.

Caleigh Alevy, Intern
My education, both on campus and online, has been helpful in preparing me for my internship. Social Work Practice with Individuals and Families has especially helped me in working with my clients in Project Independence. My top two priorities when counseling my clients have been to meet my clients “where they are at” and to “help them help themselves”.

My internship is teaching me dynamics that can only be learned with face-to-face training and experience. The time that my supervisor takes to review what is expected of me, what needs improvement, and what has been achieved is providing me with the desired education for a social work career. Receiving an A in my classes is one achievement, but working one-on-one with my clients and my supervisor is teaching me how to be the best social worker that I can be. While I still have a lot to learn, I am being given tools for optimal growth in serving clients and society, as well as working with colleagues and supervisors.

The most surprising thing I’ve learned from working in Project Independence is how cyclical the (teen pregnancy and homelessness) epidemic is. Most clients report being brought up primarily by a grandparent. Our clients come to us pregnant or as young moms that are now homeless because their parent or grandparent can no longer support them. These young moms want an opportunity to improve their lives and their children’s lives. Many times their role models during childhood did not set a good example or stable environment which plays a role in their resistance to change. This makes the work that we do more challenging. Our clients need strong, patient mentors who believe in them and encourage them to make strides toward successful, independent lifestyles. Project Independence prioritizes education and job training for the young moms. Attending a parenting class is also a requirement. The hope is that after 18 months, the client will be able to support herself and her child and move forward confidently in life. Their life experience makes it a challenge to help them overcome negative habits over the course of the 18 month program. Our goal is to help our clients know that with hard work, they CAN succeed in their efforts.