Working at the Community Day Center of Waltham this summer has been an incredibly moving and emotionally intense experience. At this point, I have developed such strong relationships with many of our guests. These relationships have taught me a lot about separating my emotions towards the circumstantial work I do from the objective work I have to accomplish. I have learned to set boundaries as a professional while still maintaining an approachable demeanor, that way I can both relate to and create a comfortable environment for the guests as well as professionally address the problem(s) at hand.
In the office, it is easier for me to maintain a professional standing in the eyes’ of the guests. For me, emotional dilemmas arise when I bump into them around town and see the reality of their challenging circumstances first hand. It is hard for me to grapple with and go on with my day-to-day activities, because, I often struggle to separate my work life from my personal life. I am a compassionate counselor and a dedicated, hard worker but the circumstances and the environment poses a emotional dilemma for me. This emotional dilemma manifests itself when I take unrealistic or unreasonable measures to try to make a permanent fix to people’s lives when it is a highly unlikely outcome. It is my job to help with the services provided at the Day Center. To conduct further work outside the Day Center would be my choosing but also could post significant liability and moral issues. For this reason, I choose very carefully and after much thought before going the extra mile and also receive approval from my supervisor before proceeding.
This work opportunity has greatly differed from university/academic life in that I have received such intense hands-on experience that a classroom setting could never provide me with. It is through this kind of experience that I have begun to master the interpersonal, organizational, and diagnostic skills necessary to be an effective case worker and have become well-acquainted with the specific services and resources that we provide and refer throughout the Metrowest area.
The biggest skill I have further developed as a result of this internship is interpersonal skills. Working with people from all different backgrounds with a wide range of circumstances and needs, I have learned about how multi-dimensional we are as people. Addressing situations that are often accompanied with complex circumstances has taught me about problem solving, troubleshooting, and many of the things to consider when assessing an individual’s well-being. For future career plans I have thought of potentially being a medical social worker, working with health care policy and reform, an occupational therapist, a cognitive behavioral therapist, or a clinical psychologist. This experience has given me a good basis that harnesses my capabilities to work with people and make a difference in whatever field I pursue. I also plan to continue to work at the Day Center throughout the year and bring what I continue to learn to the classroom setting as well as share my experiences with my peers. Hands-on experience like this alongside a classroom education prepares me to make real contributions to society and continue to make a permanent impact on peoples’ lives.