This is our guest blogger, Meaghan. She is a senior psychology major, with minors in gerontology and religious studies!
I like to plan things, especially when my future is involved. That is how I decided that I needed to complete an internship in the field I hope to pursue a career in. In the spring semester of 2013, I interned at Highland Hospital. My experiences at Highland working with the Hospital Elder Life Program greatly increased my patience, assisted my communication skills, and helped me have a better understanding of some dimensions of the human services field. Knowing how helpful my internship at Highland was for my personal development, I knew that completing another internship in my future career area would only help me. My name is Meaghan Kanaley and I am a senior psychology major, with minors in gerontology and religious studies.
Around the same time I was at Highland, I began to study and fall in love with the psychological field of behaviorism, specifically applied behavior analysis (ABA). ABA implements the principles of behaviorism and, as an area of study, greatly values accurate behavioral plans and data collection. It has been proven to be quite effective with individuals with intellectual disabilities. Because I wanted to make sure that I really wanted to be in this field, I knew that I had to do another internship working with a behaviorist and individuals with intellectual disabilities. After researching internship possibilities at local organizations, I decided to complete an internship at Ontario ARC, working with the applied behavioral specialist at one of their day habilitation programs.
While there is a wide range of abilities and diagnoses at Eberhardt, I have spent most of my time working with adults who have autism, various intellectual disabilities, obsessive compulsive disorder, and/ or anxiety. I have been able to work hands on with the program’s participants, assist the room staff, create communication board (a useful tool for some people who are nonverbal), analyze monthly behavior data, and attend various meetings and trainings. I have also reached many of my goals for the semester, including learning basic functional sign language (words like food, drink, walk, toilet, etc). Similarly to my first internship, I have seen my communication skills, as well as my teamworking and problem solving skills, change drastically for the better. I have also learned how to advocate for the participants I work with and myself. Unlike my first internship, I have found myself asking to gain more responsibilities and experience new things, which is an important skill when transitioning to the “real world.”
After having two amazing internships at Nazareth College, I cannot recommend this opportunity to other students enough! I personally feel that all Nazareth students should try to complete an internship during their undergraduate career. Because of the first hand knowledge I received at my internship, I was able to impress a future employer during an interview. I have since been offered and have accepted a position as an ABA Instructor. Although I cannot say that I got a job solely because of my internship, I do know that my internships have made me more confident about the next few years of my life. I know that I understand this field more now than I did at the beginning of the semester. I know that I am leaving Naz to pursue a career path that I am passionate about and hope to follow for years to come!