Just as I could only imagine how most other college students would feel upon starting their first internship; I too was relatively clueless to what I would encounter as an intern for Crittenton.
On its own merit, interning for a non-profit child welfare agency provides its own unique experience. However, I say with full confidence that the knowledge and skills I gained at Crittenton is unparallel to any other internship experience I could have taken part of.
During my time at Crittenton, I was fortunate enough to assist Stefanie Benvenuto, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for the agency. Her goal (and well accomplished) was to provide me with a backstage pass of how a child welfare agency functions and thrives. Though there was a strong emphasis on the political interworking that (I have come to understand) is essential to allowing a child welfare agency such as Crittenton to succeed; Stefanie encouraged my continuous observation and participation in many crucial aspects that comprises Crittenton.
So, during my three months as an intern, I had the privilege of the following:
- Observing various staff meetings pertaining to both the functioning of the agency as a whole as well as observing the proactive approaches taken by staff in order to benefit Crittenton clients.
- Gathering and organizing information for Crittenton policy briefings concerning human trafficking in which members of both the political and religious communities of Los Angeles County attended.
- Acquiring a better understanding about current legislation pertaining to child welfare and the social services arena, and its direct impact on the well being of Crittenton and those they serve.
- Accompanying community partners on site visits to highlight the plight of those Crittenton care for, and not to mention an incredible opportunity to interact with some of the exceptional members of the Crittenton team – providing me with much more insight into the world of the child welfare profession.
If you asked me what I learned from my experience, I could most definitely reiterate new facts that I learned such as how many girls are wrongfully exploited in the United States each year through domestic sex trafficking, or which current pieces of legislation are most crucial to rally support for on behalf of the most vulnerable in our society.
Yes indeed, facts such as these are useful and important and will, without a doubt, mold me into a more knowledgeable and enlightened individual. However, I feel that I have learned much more than just facts and figures throughout this summer internship experience. For example, though as of now I don’t necessarily see my future in a public policy career, I do, however, have come to appreciate the vast importance of the role policy makers have in this country.
Having a grounded understanding of the struggles that Crittenton clients and social services employees may face on any given day; I now see how important it to keep policy makers educated in the realities of the trenches as opposed to just going along with the hypothesis being created within the halls of government. Urging and reminding the most influential to not forget the needs of their most vulnerable of constituents is just one of the many ways to make a difference.
I have also come to witness that the amount of people who need the services that agencies such as Crittenton provide appears infinite, that the problems are right in front of you, and that it will take an entire community to make the necessary impact to change someone’s life.
What I have found most valuable in this experience is to know that the people who work at Crittenton truly and deeply care, whatever the roadblocks, and that no matter how heartbreaking the situation, this team hold their heads high and do all in their power to provide their clients the support, services and advocacy needed to positively impact the recovery process.
I have always had a soft spot for children needs – whether it was babysitting, to teaching at my Synagogue’s religious school, or being a camp counselor – so, it’s no surprise that this internship experience has greatly emphasized my continued passion for helping young people succeed.
Before starting this internship, I was anxious about where my future was going to take me – graduate school or no graduate school, PhD or a Masters in Social Work, and the list goes on. However, it has now been confirmed more than ever before that working in an environment that lets me work with underprivileged children is something well within my scope. I will undoubtedly be able to use what I have gained at Crittenton as building blocks to further my training (especially with my minor in social work), for I am certain my direct experiences gained this summer are incomparable to those of my peers.
I can’t say for sure if my future will lead me to a role in a non-profit child welfare agency. What I can say, however, is that I have been inspired and encouraged to in some way contribute to or further advance the groundwork that agencies such as Crittenton have already started. I could not be more grateful and appreciative to Joyce Capelle, Crittenton’s CEO, Stefanie Benvenuto, and everyone else at Crittenton who has helped to shape my experiences and for this incredible opportunity.
Eliana Rosen was the most recent summer intern for the Crittenton Services for Children and Families (CSCF) Public Policy and Advocacy Department. She is an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, but originally hails from Fountain Valley, CA. This fall she will be enrolled as a Junior working towards a Bachelors degree in Psychology with a minor is Social Work. Eliana plans to graduate in May of 2015 and interested in possibly pursuing a career where she is helping children either as a therapist or in social work. For more information on the Crittenton Internship Program please visit the careers section of website.