CCPE interns, Lizzie and Chloé, and honorary intern, Emily Johns, reflect on their internship experience and what they’ve learned and how they think the experience will impact their future careers.
Grants, Teamwork and the Importance of Outreach
By: Lizzie Timberlake
Interning at CCPE has been a wonderful learning experience. I’ve learned about what working on a grant is like, how to raise awareness of events, and about implementing evidence-based practices in the community.
I’ve also gotten to learn about myself and how I respond to different working environments; with the grant, one day could be just writing blogs at the office and the next could be testing twenty people for HIV and the next could be going to meetings at a local middle school to form and foster partnerships.
Another thing I learned about grant work is how crucial teamwork is.
I’ve loved working on a small team of three supervisors and two co-interns. This type of team allowed for the flexibility for each of us to utilize our own strengths to contribute to the work of the grant. For example, since I really enjoy writing, I’ve been able to contribute a few different blog posts, while another intern who is an artist has been able to use her drawing skills to contribute sketches of people we’ve tested.
It has been really rewarding going from knowing nothing about the RESPECT evidence based practice at the beginning of the semester to feeling super comfortable implementing the protocol now. At first, reading and going through the trainings was overwhelming because there is a lot of very specific information about how to implement RESPECT. However, after discussing it with the team and going through multiple role plays, and eventually just being thrown into some implementations, I grew more comfortable with RESPECT. By the end of the semester, I was confident going into implementations and could even conduct them without the “cheat sheet” of questions that I normally had with me. This was probably one of the most satisfying parts of CCPE for me.
I’ve also learned about the benefits of outreach. Before this experience, my attitude toward outreach was somewhat negative. As far as social media posts, flyering, and tabling, I’ve felt uncomfortable about doing them in the past and have doubted their effectiveness.
However, for CCPE, I have clearly seen how effective outreach is. Throughout January to March, the team did a lot of outreach—everything from flyering to social media posts to tabling events. April was our big month of testing events, and we really reaped the benefits of the outreach of prior months! We tested 135 people, which was something like 37% of our yearly goal—all done in 12 hours of testing. This experience taught me that, although the payoff from outreach are sometimes hard to see in the short-term, it always reaps benefits in the long-term.
Overall, my experience at CCPE helped me grow in important ways and taught me a lot about the world of grants. I am thankful for my supervisors and their enthusiasm for what we do, and am glad to have had the opportunity to intern for them this semester.
I Found A Place I Belong
By: Emily Johns
Emily started as an Aldridge Project intern (one of CCPE’s close partners), teaching elementary students the Say It Straight evidence based practice. After her time working with the students, Emily become an honorary intern for CCPE.
I started my semester off at 9am with Matt and Olivia telling me about some program called Say It Straight. All I knew was this was the program I was going to work with for the semester and I had to be in this room all day for training.
But as they introduced themselves and the program with enthusiasm, I knew I was in for a treat. It seemed appropriate that, immediately, I was out of my comfort zone being the only psychology student in a sea of nursing students who all seemed to know each other.
We went through the day and I learned all about effective and ineffective communication skills. I learned the “I/You/It” pie chart, I stood in the poses, and I played along in the movies. After the day was over, I was told I was ready to teach the 2nd graders.
It didn’t feel like I was ready. I had just learned the program myself, from the perspective of the student none-the-less.
Regardless of how prepared I felt, we were thrown into Paragon Elementary to teach Say It Straight. I was placed in a classroom with two other nursing students, who had already implemented Say It Straight before with other kids.
So, with their knowledge and my fresh eyes, we worked together for six weeks to help these kids learn how to say no and mean it. Through our collaboration, they taught me what had worked in the past and I helped to introduce new ideas they hadn’t thought of before. Teamwork was a major theme that continued to show itself in many opportunities throughout my fieldwork experience. The Paragon implementation was just the beginning.
After my six weeks with Paragon, I started working with the CCPE grant team. I remember thinking it was going to be awkward, just a few people sitting around a blue table for four hours.
Were we allowed to talk? Or were we supposed to sit there in silence? What were we even going to do?
Come Tuesday, I show up and I was welcomed at the door with a big smile from the whole grant team. From then, every Tuesday and Thursday, I showed up to the office and we sat around the blue table as a team and as friends.
Over the weeks, we learned more about each other as people, not just ‘these people I work with’. We were encouraged to be active members, bringing our ideas forth, and writing blogs about things we thought were important, and sharing our new ideas for promotions and implementations.
I felt like my voice was really heard and appreciated. Being able to contribute so much lead to empowerment.
As students, so much of our lives have been spent being told what to do, how to do it, and the direction you should follow. However, CCPE gave me an environment that allowed me to be more confident in the work and ideas I put forth. It allowed me to work without certain boundaries, which allowed me to expand in ways schooling would not have. I was able to contribute in ways that I thought would be helpful, without being prompted by homework, tests, or a paper.
I spent the rest of the semester working with the team. I went through training for two more evidence-based practices, Lead & Seed and RESPECT. Then I got to participate in the implementations of each. Our RESPECT implementations were where I learned the most about how better to act and react with people in vulnerable positions.
Each testing session, I sat down with an individual looking to learn their HIV status and had an open conversation about risky sexual behaviors. This was empowering because I was trying to be a trusting, non-judgmental source of information for these clients and it was translated. That is what they saw and reported in their feedback.
This semester has been eventful working with the Aldrich Project and then partnering with CCPE. I’ve been through a handful of trainings, saw about as many implementations, worked with a bunch of 2nd graders, and worked with a grant team. I learned to have more confidence in myself, work with all kinds of personalities, how to develop professionally, and learned most importantly, I am finally in the career field I’m meant to be in.
I feel like I belong with the psychologists.
Intern Experience Leads to New Career Goals
By: Chloé Ivana
When I first started interning at CCPE, it was heavily focused on learning the grant narrative and how to implement RESPECT effectively. There was a lot of information to take in at the beginning.
However, in order to learn these evidence based practices, I did a lot of role-playing of the RESPECT protocol. It made me nervous to role-play in front of Matt and Olivia. However, once I did it a few times and got their feedback, I became so much more comfortable with it. Now that I have done it with so many clients, I feel extremely confident implementing RESPECT.
Although, I felt confident, there were a few challenging times. During the HIV testing events I noticed myself feeling emotional and sympathetic toward people we tested. I definitely had to implement self-care strategies after working with specific clients during the one-on-one counseling sessions (i.e. victims of sexual assault). I really had to make sure I kept a clear head so I could assist the individuals getting tested appropriately, without my emotions impacting my judgment when implementing RESPECT.
I spoke to the team about the emotional impact I had after testing certain individuals and hearing their stories. Matt, Kira and Olivia were so open to talking about it and providing support to their interns, not just their clients. This experience brought along the realization that client trauma can have a profound emotional impact on providers and volunteers who are working with those clients.
Outside of simply implementing RESPECT, I got to learn and do a lot of other things as well. Interning at CCPE involves constantly working as a team to problem solve and to plan events. CCPE really encourages their interns to play a part in team meetings. This was something that really helped me work on my communication and listening skills in a professional setting, and it was definitely new to me.
Overall, this internship could not have been any more ideal. I gained a great deal of knowledge and hands on experience, not to mention the connections I have made for future employment.
The internship has inspired me so much that I am looking for paid work that is similar to what I was doing at CCPE. I am currently trying to find prevention work to do through Centerstone after graduation this May 2017. If not for this internship I would probably be looking for a different kind of job after graduation.