A guest post by Fayla Sutton about her PSY 300 internship
During the Fall 2019 semester, I completed my internship at Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center. Seeds of Hope is located in downtown Biddeford and offers support to people who struggle with poverty. They offer a complimentary continental breakfast and soup all day. They have free clothing donations for people to take when they come in, and a career center where we help people look for jobs and apartments.
As an intern, I gave presentations on public health topics, like vaping and immunizations. I also assisted with the management and organization of new donations, making sure the food was stocked and clean, and cleaning the center. I did a lot of work in the career center where I helped people find jobs, apply for food stamps, look for apartments, and navigate government assistance websites. This semester I also helped administer homelessness surveys, where we sit down and interviewed people who are/have been homeless in hopes of better understanding the barriers they face in finding supports, and ways in which the city of Biddeford and Seeds of Hope can assist the community.
Interning at Seeds of Hope was intimidating at first. There were a lot of people to remember, a new culture to take in, and just general nervousness being exposed to so many new people. I was pushed outside of my comfort zone by being immersed in a new culture. Seeds of Hope is often very high energy and personal connections become very important and strong. I was surprised how easily and quickly some of the neighbors (this is what we call our patrons) opened up. My world view also shifted, because we were required to deliver compassionate care to anyone who comes into Seeds, no matter who it is. This made me realize that you can care about and value people outside of their beliefs and the decisions they make/have made. Learning the culture and becoming part of the community was an amazing experience that I appreciate.
I am interested in community non-profit work and community psychology, so this internship provided me with a lot of really great experience. I got the opportunity to understand the way a lot of government assistance programs work together, and the challenges of trying to apply for and maintain them. I am got a lot of experience offering an empathetic ear to anyone who might need one. One of my favorite parts of my internship was that it offered me the opportunity to meet and connect with people I would not otherwise have been exposed to. I also think it was a really important tool in accepting that people’s worth and character is not dictated by their education level, living situation, or their background. Seeds has made me realize that there may be a lot more populations that I am interested in working with than I initially thought; it has pushed me to widen my scope when looking at jobs for next year.
One thing this internship has made apparent to me is how interconnected a lot of the concepts we learn in class are in the real world. I have seen a lot of overlap of concepts within individual neighbors including things like recidivism, substance abuse/dependence, mental illness, and co-morbidity. I am also confronted daily with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It is hard, from what I have seen, for people to get help or be concerned with mental illness when they don’t have a roof over their heads or know where their next meal is coming from. On the flip side, I have been exposed to vast amounts of resilience and strength. It is amazing to see the things people have had to go through and that they can still maintain a positive outlook on things. Being in a real-life setting made a lot of the concepts much more tangible and easier to understand as well as connect them to one another.
Our thanks to Fayla for sharing her experience with us. All Psychology majors complete at least one internship, PSY 300, as part of their degree and work closely with a faculty supervisor as part of the experience. To learn more about Psychology at UNE, and our internship experiences, please visit: https://www.une.edu/cas/psych