Every social worker must do a 3-day per week internship, over 2 years, to get a MSW. The internships are difficult because one has to operate as a skilled social worker by demonstrating the knowledge, ethics and skills of the profession, when in fact, the intern is still learning.
That’s one of the big differences between being an intern and a volunteer. An internship is a transformative experience that will turn one into a professional. Volunteering can be transformative, but it’s not designed to do that—you can leave the same way you came in.
The internship supervisor (another MSW) is the intern’s social work instructor, on-the-job-coach, role model, advocate and protector. I learned all this when I supervised interns. That’s also when I started to realize how much I enjoyed the educational part of supervision. It was also part of the motivation to trade in social services for higher education.
Now that I’m an educator, I can truly say that it’s an honor and a privilege to have students. When I look back and realized how my internship set up the foundation of my career, I felt honored to be entrusted with the responsibility of setting a foundation for my students.
Whenever I get annoyed with my job, I remember that I asked for it. All of us vent to our friends when we’re annoyed. I gave my friends permission to remind me that—whenever I start to complain, remind me that I said it’s an honor and privilege to do what I do.
As much as I might sometimes complain about students, I’m glad to be here at CUNY.
Rhonda Harrison is currently studying at CUNY SPS to earn her post-graduate certificate in Adult Learning & Program Design. She is a social worker with a background in workforce development and currently works as an Advisor at a community college.