Kathryn Pierce – Social Work Internship
Hello! My name is Kathryn Pierce and I am an intern at CrossNet Ministries in New Holland. I intern in both the social services department with Marilyn Guzman and the main office with Lisa Kerstetter. I had the amazing opportunity to intern during the Fall semester of my senior year, and I was lucky to get two mentors rather than just one! At this internship, I help with filing and processing important papers for the various programs that Crossnet runs such as the annual Christmas Drive and Coat Drive. Interning at CrossNet has been an amazing experience and I have learned so much about the needs of our community and how I can make an impact in others’ lives. This experience has also helped me in my career path as I have gotten a better understanding and sense of what exactly I want to pursue.
In the main office with Lisa, I am usually helping out with various tasks around the facilities to aid with programs or any events. The work around the office tends to be mainly paperwork and miscellaneous tasks like sorting through donated clothes, but these tasks are really rewarding to complete because everything Crossnet does is for a great cause. I have also gotten to work on the Christmas gift giveaway, which starts with receiving wish lists and putting them into spreadsheets to account for everyone, we then scan them into the system and match every participant with a sponsor. This Christmas program has been the majority of my work in the main office as there are a lot of steps and things start rolling early so we can be prepared for the holidays! I am also always observing from my desk to see how the people at Crossnet interact with participants as they come in, which has been a great learning experience.
When I am in the Social Services department with Marilyn, I have several main tasks I do: putting together binders for the classes she teaches, running errands, completing research for the transportation program, and getting to sit in on meetings with participants. Getting the experience of seeing her work directly with participants has been a super valuable thing to observe, it has shown me what an experienced professional does in intense situations. Many of the participants have heartbreaking stories and struggles that they share in these meetings, but I have watched my mentor calmly listen and help to the best of her ability. These meetings can be pretty emotionally charged, but this gives me an honest idea of what social work is like. Due to many of these meetings including private information, this part of my internship has stayed strictly confidential. In the future I really want to be able to help people as a victim’s advocate because social justice has always been a passion of mine, listening to stories from my own community about the struggles of poverty and domestic violence has given me a better perspective on how exactly I can help.
Overall, this dual internship has been an absolutely amazing opportunity! I would definitely recommend getting an internship to get more experience in your fields of interest. Internships can open your mind to new perspectives and give you a better holistic idea of what exactly the jobs you are interested in entail. For my internship, I have been able to network with others in the field and from the organization, but I have also learned a lot just from doing more applied work rather than just reading about it. After observing what social workers do, I have realized that I want to pursue something in the field of social justice, but that I might not exactly fit the role of a social worker; that is the best part of an internship, it helps you realize what you want for your future!