I never wanted an intern. I like to work alone (most counselors/therapist do). I enjoy coming to work and not being responsible for anyone except myself, yet this week that’s all changing.
I’ve heard from fellow counselors that interns can be great assets if they are good, and major burdens if they aren’t. We are largely responsible for them and it can be like babysitting, so how on Earth did I get stuck with an intern?
Every few months as students approach their last semesters of graduate school, they have to complete approximately 1,000 hours of internship work. Usually when my company starts assigning us interns from the various masters programs, I just pretend to be busy and that has worked in my favor, up until last Monday.
As we sat in a meeting and met the interns I quickly scanned the room. There were six counselors including me, and four interns. I breathed a sigh of relief. Surely I would escape the curse of being assigned an intern once again.
As usual I sat quietly, doodling in my notebook in an attempt to look preoccupied and listened closely as the interns were being assigned.
I tried to rationalize why my superiors would not give me an intern.
- I was the only male there and all the interns were female. Surely they wouldn’t assign me a female intern.
- My office is quite small, there isn’t enough room for two people to work out of comfortably.
- My school is in the inner-city and has a reputation for being rough, most of the other counselors worked out of much nicer schools in much nicer areas.
My chances seemed pretty good and they were.
We were down to one last intern, another counselor and myself. I just knew they would give the intern to the other counselor, after all she has been with the company for over 17 years. If anyone could mentor, teach and guide a new, soon to be counselor it would be her.
And they did! They did give the intern to her, but then she stated she was moving offices and didn’t think she would have room for an intern. I felt gravity pulling my face to the floor. Seriously?
And that’s how I got stuck with an intern.
After they gave me my intern, we had a short meet and greet. I was not excited and my disappointment probably showed in my face and tone as I asked her why did she want to be a therapist, did she know anything about the school she had just been assigned to, a school that has seen it’s fair share of stabbings, shootings and deaths.
Yes I know I was not being as nice as I usually am, but I was annoyed and irritated.
There’s enough things to worry about working with teenagers and the last thing I wanted to be worried about was some naive intern, whose total sum of understanding human behavior and psychology mostly comes from $200 textbooks.
Don’t get me wrong, I love text books, but from experience kids in grad school tend to think they know everything because they got an “A” in a class when in all actually, they have just begun to scratch the surface of understanding human behavior with all it’s complexities.
To my surprise she stated she prefered to work in the inner-city with kids who came from violent and impoverished backgrounds.
Okay, she gets a point for that. Most interns I’ve met come from pretty prestigious programs and believe that all their clients will be upper middle class, college educated, well adjusted individuals with simple neurotic problems that can be cured at the rate of $140 an hour.
To be fair, she seems nice enough. She’s graduating from Virginia Tech so I know she should be smart enough. Only time will tell if she is capable enough to actually work with kids who live in neighborhoods that often resemble war zones.
I definitely want to change my attitude and try not to look at her as a burden. I want to teach, guide and mentor her as someone did me when I was in her shoes five years ago. So, in a way, I look forward to seeing how this plays out. I will keep you posted.