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Internships and New Discoveries

internships
Thomas Martino
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Published on March 31, 2014

This is a guest post by Gilbert Ernest Franco for Student Stories. 

Internships are often the beginning of a professional’s journey into their career. They are a place where recent graduates can apply the knowledge and skills that they learned in school into real world situations. Like any journey to a new place, internships can lead to new discoveries and new insights about one’s career and themselves.

After three months of searching after I graduated from my Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy, I finally landed a paid internship in a non-profit community mental health agency. It was finally my chance to apply the knowledge and skills that I learned in graduate school. I did not know at the time that my new internship would not only test my knowledge and skills as a therapist, it would also test my character and resolve.
Cars usually need a couple of seconds to gain the momentum and speed they need in order to merge into the highway at the speed of traffic. I did not have that luxury on my first day at work. My agency already had three behavioral health assessments, each about 90 minutes long with an additional hour of paperwork, lined up for me that day.

It was either sink or swim. I could have run home that day and no one would have blamed me. At least I would have tried. I could start looking for someplace else.

That wasn’t me.  I swam as hard as I could. . . . I made it. I went home exhausted, but victorious. I was Caesar for a day.

School taught me how to do behavioral health assessments and paperwork. It taught me all the skills that I needed to be a good therapist. My internship taught me about the realities of life in a community mental health agency. My internship taught me about productivity standards, medical billing, community outreach, and building relationships. The experience was invaluable.

I also discovered my passion. . . . helping other professionals become successful.

After managing to swim that first day, I became one of the most productive therapists at my agency. My program director asked me to research how the other therapists to increase their productivity and morale. In my research, I discovered organizational psychology. I went back to school to earn my doctorate in organizational psychology and am currently writing my dissertation on marriage and family therapist job satisfaction in community mental health agencies.

Internships can mark the beginning of your journey into your chosen career path. They can also help you discover new things about yourself. Keep swimming. Keep an open mind. Use all the resources that are available for you. Your internship can be a guide to your success.

About the Author:

Gilbert is a licensed marriage and family therapist in the State of California. He is also the author of Chronicles of Essencia: My Lost Wing. He is currently a Ph.D. student at Walden University and is writing his dissertation on the relationship between productivity standards set by community mental health organizations and MFT job satisfaction and turnover intent. You can also find him on LinkedIn.

Thomas Martino

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