But when things just ‘click,’ as they did for human services leadership student Cymone Jones and her South Park Middle School internship supervisor, school counselor Katie Kessen-Checki ’03, the experience fosters great hands-on learning for the student and great benefits for the placement site.
Taking on interns
A graduate of the UW Oshkosh human services leadership (HSL) program, Kessen-Checki knew a lot of HSL majors like herself who wanted to go on to become school counselors.
During her first year at South Park, she saw a need for more individual mentoring for the middle school students and support in some group settings. She liked the idea of having interns because middle school students are a little more willing to open up to someone who’s not a teacher or counselor, but rather a mentor they can ‘hang’ with.
“I knew my site would be ideal for interns who wanted to gain a lot of one-on-one experience with students and who could also see what I do in my role as a counselor,” she said.
The start of a great relationship
With a desire to ultimately work as a school counselor, South Park was Jones’ first choice as a placement site for her initial 120-hour internship during the spring 2013 semester.
And from there a great internship —and mentor relationship— was born.
“Cymone was able to establish a great rapport with me right away and I had confidence she would do a good job,” Kessen-Checki said.
During her internship, Jones was responsible for a wide variety of things, from working one-on-one with students to facilitating small groups. According to Kessen-Checki, Jones was a great self-starter who was more than willing to take leadership on projects and meet students’ needs.
“Cymone would come to me and say I’m working with this certain student and I noticed they’re struggling with social studies. I’m going to talk to the social studies teacher to see how we can help,” Kessen-Checki said. “She has such a great deal of initiative and I love that about her. She automatically knows what needs to happen in order to support the students,” she said.
While demonstrating initiative, Jones was also pushed to expand her comfort zone. For example, Jones took a group of eighth graders on her own for a job shadow site visit. She fought through the expected anxiety of being in a setting by herself without another teacher for support and it worked out fine.
“Katie never once doubted me in anything. She threw me on a bunch of projects I didn’t have experience in and she just knew I could handle it,” Jones said. “She’s been a very open person; there was nothing hidden or sugar-coated, which is why I really loved working with her.”
After her midyear commencement in December, Jones plans to follow in Kessen-Checki footsteps and earn a master’s in counseling.
Advice for future interns
The human services leadership field is really evolving and there are a lot of diverse opportunities out there. As such, Kessen-Checki encourages student to explore all the options, even as far as field placements.
“Really examine what your goals are for the future. Go do the things that make sense for you for your goals – whether it’s counseling or a nonprofit agency and work hard to get there,” she said.