Toward the end of Kat Fallon’s junior year at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), she was accepted into an internship that was subsequently cancelled. As the social work program she was in required all seniors to participate in a 450-hour internship in order to graduate, Kat had no choice but to find another internship. As unfortunate as that cancellation was, Kat landed a paid internship with Work Opportunities Unlimited (WOU) that both fulfilled her college requirements and helped strengthen her career path within social services.
After Kat’s initial internship was cancelled, her professor suggested she meet with an agency that helps match students with internships, and one match was a career resource specialist opportunity with WOU. Kat said, “I had never heard of WOU when it was suggested to me, so I researched the company and learned that the company’s values aligned with mine.” She went through the interview process and was accepted as an intern with WOU!
During the initial period of the internship with WOU in her role as a Career Resource Specialist, Kat worked with clients at a local transfer station, helping them learn the job, overcome obstacles, and gain independence and success in their work. When Kat decided to work through her winter break, she supported three more individuals in their unique departments at a local grocery store. She assisted these clients with their day-to-day work activities. This allowed Kat to build her own skills by working with individuals in varying settings, with different supervisors and co-workers. While Kat focused on the unique abilities of each individual and how to capitalize on their abilities, she could also see they shared the similar goal of gaining independence in their workplace and their community.
It was during her second semester that Kat focused on broadening her knowledge of social services even more. She worked with her supervisor, Darlene Hayden, to learn about the administrative aspects of the agency, such as what type of government assistance is available to help clients, how WOU’s programs are funded, and what services are available for clients. This part fascinated Kat, and led her to do a little ‘soul searching’ of her overarching career goals. Kat said, “While I really do love working with people with barriers and it brings me a lot of happiness, my main goal is to work in criminal justice reform with mental health, so trying to break down the barriers of mental health stigmas within the criminal justice system. I want to do a little bit of policy and a little bit of direct practice.”
With the successful completion of the internship, Kat was ready to graduate from UNH. Even after graduation, however, she found opportunities to spread the word about WOU’s services. She explained, “Over the summer, I worked as a respite provider for a local community agency and had to do an agency assessment, writing about the ins and outs of an agency from funding to administration to creating org. charts. I interviewed a woman from that organization that works with a lot of vocational rehabilitation clients, and she had never heard about WOU. I told her about WOU’s services and even connected her with WOU so the organizations could potentially partner-up to help more people.”
Kat’s internship proved to be more than just checking a box towards graduation; it helped her gain interpersonal skills, learn about the inner workings of an agency, and understand what it feels like to make a positive impact on someone else’s life. If you are interested in exploring internship opportunities at WOU, please contact Stacey Plamondon at firstname.lastname@example.org.