Psychology and philosophy double major Samantha Distefano '17 has always loved the idea of helping others, especially those who could benefit from what she has to give, which is why she wanted to work for Bridge of Central Massachusetts, a nonprofit human service agency in Worcester. The company provides compassionate, evidence-based human services for those with mental health challenges, developmental disabilities, acquired brain injury and complex family problems.
DiStefano began working at Bridge in May; she spends a large portion of her internship observing residents, as well as interacting with them by offering assistance and company. She has attended Dialectic Behavior Therapy and Illness Management and Recovery (IMR) Therapy sessions. Currently, she helps facilitate and plan coloring and painting activities and hiking trips that are connected to the IMR sessions.
"I really do enjoy my internship. I love the residents. They are so sweet and caring. They are always so happy to see me and talk with me," DiStefano said.
Along with the clients, DiStefano works with office staff on administrative tasks; she said the team is hardworking, and they are always willing to share their wealth of knowledge with her on various topics.
DiStefano wanted the internship at Bridge so she could work with individuals with mental health challenges. In only two months, she said she has received a tremendous amount of experience. As a psychology major concentrating in health and counseling, she is thankful for the internship, which has given her a look into this field of work. She credits her psychology and sociology courses with preparing her to work with people with mental health challenges, as well as her philosophy major in helping her pursue her passions on her career path.
She applied for the Bridge internship through its website and was able to meet a representative of the organization at Emmanuel's Spring Career and Internship Fair soon thereafter. She reached out to Emmanuel's Career Center who helped her prepare her résumé and cover letter.
"For me, having an internship was a really great way to really take an inside look at what I was interested in. It's hard to know for sure what career path is for you, especially without ever getting a chance to sort of try it out first," she said.
After this internship experience, DiStefano said she still enjoys helping others whose daily lives she could enhance in ways large and small, whether it be with mental health issues or deviant behavior, but she's not entirely sure what career path she will take just yet; however, she would like to attend graduate school.
"[This opportunity] allowed me to experience firsthand what it was like to work with the population I may want to work with. I really don't think you can go wrong getting an internship, especially if you are unsure about your career search or your major," DiStefano said.