My Internship Experience by Sarah Lindemulder
May 9th, 2011
This guest blog posting is from Sarah Lindemulder, a social work intern at UCOM for the past year.
Over the past year, I have had the honor and privilege of working as a social work intern at United Church Outreach Ministry. I was first introduced to the UCOM family in the spring of 2010 when, as a social work student from Cornerstone University, I began interviewing at prospective placements. Little did I know how close I would become with the staff and neighbors that make UCOM such a welcoming community. A few months later I began my internship at UCOM. The fall semester served primarily as an introduction to the wide variety of services and programs offered at UCOM. With a full semester under my belt I began the New Year as a full-timer.
From that first day in January I always felt that I was seen as an equal by the other staff members. The acceptance I felt encouraged me to dive into my endeavors with confidence. The main focus of my internship was to act as an advocate for the immigrant population in our community. The implementation of this advocacy took many different forms. On a personal level, I was able to work with an individual who was struggling with providing documentation for one of her children. Together, we were able to assess her case and find a lawyer willing to help her navigate through the difficulties she was experiencing. On a broader level, I developed a survey meant to help identify the needs of immigrants in our community. The survey acted as a month long needs assessment that identified gaps in services for the immigrant population. The results from this survey helped shape my development of a comprehensive immigrant resource manual intended to provide UCOM staff with a guide for referring those in need. Additionally, I coordinated, planned, and hosted several immigration workshops at UCOM. Immigration lawyers from the city, came and shared their expertise with UCOM staff and representatives from many other area agencies. The experience and knowledge of the speakers was tremendous and those in attendance left the workshop better equipped to provide culturally competent services to their clients.
I cannot express how thankful I am for my time at UCOM. From the time I stepped into the building, I was embraced and encouraged to become an active advocate for our neighbors in Southwest Grand Rapids, Wyoming, and Grandville. For any student who desires to become better equipped to serve the community, UCOM is the place to be!
-Sarah Lindemulder, BSW