Internship Program Links BBS Students to Community
May 9, 2012
Internships offer students an opportunity to expand their knowledge in different learning environments, and for students from UT Dallas’ School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, this often involves sharing their talents with community organizations that have limited resources and growing needs.
Dean Bert Moore says many students consider their internship as the highlight of their undergraduate years.
BBS encourages students to complement what they have learned in the classroom with work in a wide variety of applied settings through an internship program that sends more students into the community every year. During the spring semester, BBS placed 34 interns with 30 area agencies.
Mariam Haque, who is scheduled to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in child learning and development this month, said her internship changed her career plans. She had planned to apply for medical school but now wants to pursue a future in counseling.
Haque worked this semester at CONTACT Crisis Line, where she helped callers desperate for guidance on domestic violence or suicide issues.
Nancy Sam has worked at the VA Medical Center.
The program aided Lonnada Green's career plans.
“The lessons I’ve learned from this internship are innumerable,” she said. “I have learned to listen rather than talk and to truly never judge a book by its cover, because you really don’t know what something or someone is about until you actually listen and understand them.”
Haleh Hekmat, a director at the Turning Point Rape Crisis Center, is working with two UT Dallas interns this semester. They both went through the center’s training program and are now certified sexual assault advocates. They answer crisis calls and accompany survivors to the hospital.
“Anything from helping with our education department to fundraising and administration, they make a big difference in our office,” Hekmat said.
Internships help students learn important professional skills and apply what they have learned in class.
Nancy Sam gained first-hand experience as a research assistant intern at the Dallas VA Medical Center. The psychology major plans to enter Dallas Theological Seminary in the fall and work toward a career in faith-based counseling.
“Many of the psychological principles that I learned over my years at UT Dallas have recurred in my internship setting,” she said. “Different assessments and dysfunctions that I was tested on appeared in my work setting and strengthened my understanding of concepts.”
BBS students receive course credit for their internships and can choose from several different types.
Lonnada Green, who plans to attend law school after graduation this spring, said her internship at the Dallas County criminal justice center has prepared her to deal with inmates and defendants.
“My law degree coupled with my psychology degree will give me insight into dealing with inmates who have committed crimes due to mental disturbances and mental dispositions,” she said.
The types of community organizations that BBS interns support include social and educational development agencies, child abuse and domestic violence programs psychiatric counseling agencies and senior citizen services.
Michelle Nietert of Allen Counseling Associates initially was unsure how well the interns would fit into a private counseling setting, but she said her UT Dallas interns have been “great.”
The interns help the practice serve patients more efficiently while giving the students an inside look at the business side of counseling.
“The UT Dallas interns have had great people skills, and we’ve had a great experience working with them,” she said.
Dr. Bert Moore, the dean of BBS, has expanded the internship program with the rapid increase in his school’s enrollment. He said the internship program aims to benefit both student and organization.
“Many interns tell us that this course is a highlight of their undergraduate careers, where they get a chance to expand their skills and learn about the opportunities and challenges of working in applied settings,” he said. “We get wonderful feedback from the agencies who often tell us what committed, intelligent and creative students we have here at UT Dallas.”
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