Sarah HardySpotlight on interns

This week’s intern is Sarah Hardy, a senior at Saint Mary’s majoring in psychology. This summer, she had her internship with the Washington County Government Center, working from home in the Adult Mental Health Unit.

Major responsibilities: I help screen new clients who have been referred from mental health treatment centers as well as assist in screening clients who are being petitioned for civil commitment by a hospital. Through this process I complete an intake interview, interview collateral contacts, request the appropriate records (medical, police), assess their level of functioning through a functional assessment, and create a community support plans to help aid in their recovery or management of symptoms. We get new cases every day, and the goal is to have as many people talk to the client as possible, so there is a lot of collaboration involved. I’m also able to make referrals to outside sources that can help with the identified needs of the client.

How I found out about this internship: I was browsing the county website and looking to see if they had a mental health page — they did! I emailed the generic email and then was referred to the person who is now my site supervisor. There was no internship program set up, but we were able to create one that fit my needs.

Favorite part: This is such a diverse internship, and I love all the different aspects of psychology that are brought in. I’m able to learn not only about mental disorders, but also about how many different services are available to clients with mental illness. That being said, I think my favorite part is being able to present the client at our clinical team meeting, which means we have completed all the documentation and we can transfer them to an ongoing case manager.

Most challenging part: When we get a new prepetition screening from the hospital, we have until the client’s 72-hour hold is up to determine if they need to be civilly committed. It can be a huge time crunch to try and get as much information as possible, and sometimes, there isn’t enough evidence to support the petition. Often, these clients end up back in the hospital, and we have to repeat the process. It can be hard to see people coming back through our unit over and over again and having to wait until something more severe happens to them.

Biggest lesson learned: Ask questions, be curious, and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. I was always nervous to call a client on my own or do an intake, but that’s where all the learning comes from. Of course, I also learned so much more about community mental health, and I feel more confident when speaking about mental health to clients and others.

Advice: An internship is 100% worth it. Don’t be afraid to reach out to places you are interested in even if they don’t have a structured internship program set up. You gain so many connections and real-world experiences. As Nike says, just do it!

Upcoming events

Winning Interviewing Strategies Workshop
Tuesday, Oct. 6
3:45 to 4:15 p.m.
Via Zoom

  • Are you ready for your next interview?
  • Do you know the most commonly asked interview questions?
  • Do you know how to answer them?

Participants will learn essential strategies for answering commonly asked questions and behavioral based questions, what questions to ask in an interview, and much more.

This 30-minute workshop is free, but you must register in advance.

Fall Career and Internship Expo
Cosponsored by Saint Mary’s University and Winona State University
Wednesday, Oct. 21
10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Via Handshake

In order to make the most of this fair experience:

MN Private Nonprofit & Government Jobs Fair
Friday, Oct. 30
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Delivered virtually

If you are interested in a career in public service, this fair is for you! Visit with representatives of government agencies and nonprofit organizations, all from the convenience of your room. More details to follow.

The Office of Career Services

Questions? Contact Mike Hagarty at mhagarty@smumn.edu or visit Vlazny 111.

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