Internship Experience Leads To Career Passion
Aug. 3, 2020
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti
Story by Sarah Burchett
For as long as she can recall, Sam Houston State University student, Amy Escobar, has enjoyed helping others and working with children. But upon entering college, she was unsure how she would turn that love into a career, so she initially pursued a different interest – chemical engineering.
After realizing she was not as passionate about engineering as she was in helping others, she decided to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology in order to lay the foundation for a career in social work. This past spring, Lee Miller, sociology professor and internship coordinator, helped her find an internship that best fit her interests and allowed for a mutually beneficial partnership.
“I did an interview with Dr. Miller in order for her to know what I was interested in doing as an internship,” Escobar said. “Dr. Miller also met with the Huntsville school district’s social workers (Sally Dowis and Juanita Hall) and found what would be a perfect fit for me.”
Escobar spent her 2020 spring semester internship (prior to COVID-19) primarily working with Huntsville ISD social workers focused on student homelessness. Her duties included general office work, such as organizing the food pantry and office, and assisting with home visits and delivering food to families. Frequently, she would accompany the social workers when they met with students and parents. In one of the meetings, Escobar learned how parents of children with learning disabilities work with their child’s disability on a day-to-day basis and how it can affect students in the classroom.
“At the time I still wasn’t sure which area of social work I wanted to be in, so this was a good thing for me to do,” Escobar said. “Sometimes there were happy moments such as when a family or child would finally get something they needed, like a stable home. But, we also had to meet with families because they were having problems. It was sad sometimes. I knew social work was a hard area to work in, but it was my first time actually experiencing it.”
Like Escobar’s opportunity, internships provide a way to understand first-hand the rewards and challenges of a potential job including the many unanticipated moments.
“Amy saw some things that she probably didn’t expect. Things that we deal with all the time, like angry parents. She saw us have to work with them to calm them down,” Dowis said, who supervised Escobar’s internship.
Although the HISD internship had its challenging moments, Escobar had many encounters that helped encourage her to continue a career path in social work.
“One time my supervisors and I went to meet with a girl in high school listed as homeless, but it turned out that she was just living by herself voluntarily and she worked a full time job, went to school and she had everything together. As we were meeting with her, and since I’m not that far from her age, she was asking me for advice on school, life, jobs, and things like that, so it felt pretty rewarding to help,” she said.
The experience also benefitted Huntsville ISD. Her supervisors emphasized that she was especially helpful working with Spanish speaking families since she is bilingual. Escobar was also particularly good at communicating with teenagers because of her ability to relate to them so well. While even more intent on pursuing a career in social work, now she has a clearer idea of what it is, specifically, that she wants to do.
“I originally wanted to do Child Protective Services work, but after talking with my supervisors and learning how difficult it is, I decided that I wouldn’t be able to handle that,” Escobar said. “That has led me to want to do work in an adoption agency, or something similar. It reaffirmed my desire to do social work, but in a different area. After my Bachelor’s I’m going to take a semester off and then go back for my Master’s in social work,” she said.
Building on her internship experience, Escobar hopes to make a positive difference in the lives of children. What motivates her now, more than ever, is knowing that she could impact the trajectory of a child’s life.
“I enjoy kids and I believe events and experiences that happen to someone as a child shape their future. I want to work with kids who are troubled and lack resources so I can hopefully help change their life pathway early on, so they don’t end up down the wrong path as adults.”
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