Cheryl Abbott ’10
Internship: Trillium Place
Credit/Time: 3 credits, Summer
How did you find out about your internship?
I found out about Trillium by talking to Melissa Marietta and Dr. Goldman in the psychology department. He has an internship list of recommended locations. I filed paperwork and started working in the summer. I’d taken psychology classes, including abnormal and personality. I knew the basic groundwork for the disorders the kids had and how their personalities had been affected by the things in their lives. I also did additional readings using the DSM-IV. After the internship was complete, I was offered a paid position. Now, I work per diem. I take open shifts when I'm available.
How would you describe a typical day at your internship?
I worked 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on campus at the Tech Center and 6-11 p.m. at Trillium. It was interesting because summer is when they do a lot of rotating kids out and rotating kids in. Trillium is for 12-18 year olds. The average stay is a year and a half.
I would show up and we’d play volleyball or go to the YMCA. I would sit and watch them swim, play basketball, and so on for roughly two hours.
They have to be in their rooms by ten. Some kids earned special privileges to stay up later by following the rules. The last hour I would watch the staff write notes. I learned to write shift notes while I was there. Each kid has a binder to keep track of their daily activities and progress. I would read up on the kids’ histories.
Part of Trillium is family reunification. Some kids get treatment during the week and go home to guardians on the weekends. Others don’t go home at all. It’s not necessarily the home life that’s the problem; it’s what they do when they’re at home or the fact that their disorders get in the way.
Were there any special challenges?
You need to be able to control your anger because you’re working with emotionally and mentally troubled teens. They will do things to try to get a rise out of you. They will say awful things to your face and you need to have the ability to step back and look at the reasons behind their behavior rather than just reacting.
What did you learn that you wish you had known before?
That some of the kids just don’t want to get better. You can continue to help them, but they just will not work with you. At a certain point, they’re just not going to improve, or they’re always going to need a higher level of care.
What surprised you the most?
At the end of the summer, I was sad it was over. I knew for a fact that 12-18 was the age group I wanted to work with.
What did you find most satisfying?
Nothing was more satisfying than seeing the progress that the kids who were there when I started made. That’s probably the most satisfying thing ever.
How has this internship influenced your future career decisions?
I’m most definitely going to work with teens and young adults.
What advice do you have for other students considering a similar internship?
Have a resume. Wear pants to your interview. Always dress more professionally than necessary.