Reach is known for regularly offering internship opportunities to individuals who are seeking them as part of their studies. In the past couple years alone, we have worked with interns in the areas of human resources, independent living, marketing/event planning, finance, information technology, and development.
Three interns are just completing their time with us, having logged about 10-12 hours per week. Rebeca and Alexandra worked in our Community Living department, as well as in our Social Seekers group. Charles was a finance intern, helping with payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable. Both Rebeca and Alex are in the process of earning a master’s in social work from Augsburg. They each began at Reach last fall, and Charles spent this past semester with us. He just received his B.A. in finance and accounting from the University of Minnesota-Crookston and found this internship listed on Volunteer Match’s website. “I think volunteering in general is really beneficial, to both the place and yourself.” He is eager to put his new understanding of QuickBooks to use in his future career opportunities.
Rebeca says of her internship, “I have learned so much about staying in the moment here, rather than running through a to-do list.” Rebeca also admits that this time period has been an “eye-opening experience,” saying she found herself challenging her own judgments and biases. “I didn’t realize I had some of them!” She adds, “I didn’t realize how hidden disabilities can be. I try to be much more accommodating and understanding with others when I first meet them.”
These recent interns felt that Reach gave them a supportive and professional environment for learning. “The staff was so welcoming and super friendly,” said Charles. Alex states that she was “blown away” by the support of her supervisors and the full-time staff. “I would definitely suggest a Reach internship to others,” says Alex, “because I think Reach is an exceptional organization with a great purpose.” She continues, “I feel more confident in working with individuals with disabilities and being an advocate.”
Alex relays a particularly meaningful connection she built with an individual who was battling some serious health concerns. “This individual’s determination and positivity impacted me more than they will ever know, and I feel like a better person for having known and worked with this person.”
Good-byes present their own challenges, especially when the interns consider those with whom they have been working. Before Rebeca left, she explained that she took one person to the gym on a weekly basis, saying they would talk and laugh as they walked. “He always has such a big heart and is such a joy to be around. I can’t have a bad day knowing I will see him! It is hard having to say good-bye.”
We agree that it is always difficult for us to see an intern end their time with us (luckily Alex has been hired to continue with us on a part-time basis). Larissa, who supervised Alex and Rebeca and frequently sponsors interns, says, “Interns always bring new and different perspectives to our work. It’s exciting to see how they react when what they’ve been studying comes to life in real-world experiences.” We feel fortunate to have been a part of their journey and to have benefited from all they have shared with us.