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Internship with Strawberry Fields, Inc.
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Anna Rastatter

Anna Rastatter

Paterno Fellow
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Major(s): Rehabilitation and Human Services & English

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I am a volunteer at the Community Help Centre in downtown State College. Many of my fellow volunteers also worked at Strawberry Fields and they spoke very highly of their experiences at Strawberry Fields. I began to ask CHC staff members about possible internships through the company. I went on the website and began filling out the online, general application. While I was completing the application, I met with my Rehabilitation and Human Services Adviser. I bounced the idea off her and she fully supported it. She was on their board and was able to tell me a bit about the internship program. I finished my application and was offered the internship position in my desired department a couple of weeks later.

 

Tell us a little about your experience.

My primary duty was to assist adults who have a primary mental health diagnosis in a residential setting. Responsibilities included providing emotional support, assisting with daily living skills, money management, household management, and social skills. I also was in charge of administering medication as well as logging all interactions with them. As my internship progressed, I began to run groups that focused on topics such as self-advocacy and physical wellness. I would create activities and research the topic in order to run effective, interactive groups with the individuals we served. I also ran weekly townhouse meetings in which we addressed any conflicts between roommates. During the last portion of my internship, I took on the role of a full-time employee by becoming the "goal-manager" for one of the individuals in Strawberry Fields. This entailed working with the person on developing goals and setting specific steps to accomplish the goals. It was a very fulfilling experience.

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience was so intense. It was the best thing I have done at Penn State. From the very start, my internship required me to constantly depend on my education to accomplish my job duties. The Psychiatric Principles that I learned in the classroom were recognized and used to help these individuals I worked with. I will take the valuable lessons I've learned from my internship and utilize them in my future career. I learned that a real-world experience can sometimes teach you more than a quiz or test ever could. This experience also impacted my confidence. I gained so much confidence by trusting my past education. Overall my internship taught me invaluable lessons about working in human services.

I learned that a real-world experience can sometimes teach you more than a quiz or test ever could.

What are your career goals and plans? How did this experience impact them?

I plan to apply for a full-time position at Strawberry Fields. I would like to look into Masters programs, particularly Penn State’s Counseling Education program. My dream is to get licensed to practice counseling and therapy in a clinical setting. I am excited to put in the work and finish my education in order to get there.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students? If yes, why?

I would definitely recommend this internship to other Liberal Arts students, particularly psychology majors. This experience has given me a wealth of insight into the field of mental health. I would recommend that anyone going into the field of human services gain some real world experience. Additionally, my internship provided me with many networking opportunities and contacts. The most important lesson I learned during my experience was how to better connect with people. I learned that even if a person has a mental illness, the ability to work to gain an independent lifestyle is completely possible. This belief is something I will stand by and advocate for as I continue in the field of human services.

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