Child and Family Services Internship Class Links Students to Careers

Dr. Amber Hammons

(May 2, 2016) – The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology has always emphasized experiential, hands-on learning, and the Child and Family Sciences 193 internship class is a prime example of its important role in aiding students’ transition into the professional world.

The three-credit spring semester capstone class is taught each spring by fourth-year professor Dr. Amber Hammons and is one of three required options for seniors majoring in family science or child development before they graduate.

The course emphasizes professional development in a family- or child-related field and ties together information learned from previous classes, social policy research and a semester-long internship. The opportunity also increases students’ awareness and sensitivity of ethics in professional settings.

The 34-student class meets once each week to share internship experiences, enhance professional development skills, and learn about family-related careers from guest speakers in the community. The previous fall, students chose an agency that offers child or family services and planned out a semester-long work schedule.

Internships are conducted at a variety of locations and many include organizations such as the Boy’s and Girl’s Club, California Health Collaborative, Central Valley Justice Coalition, Central Valley Service Network, Exceptional Parents Unlimited Children’s Center, Focus Forward, Fresno Adolescent Life program and Planned Parenthood.

“The internship is an important opportunity for students to apply what they’ve learned and get crucial work experience,” said Hammons. “Being able to share their experiences with other students exposes them to a multitude of opportunities to help children and families and learn about agencies that they might not have been aware of before but match their personalities. Some of our child development students use it as an opportunity to try new career paths instead of traditional elementary teacher or child care routes.”

Students also create reports about social issues, advocacy and public policy that are addressed by their internship agency or location.

This spring, Elizabeth Rodems, a family science major, has had a rewarding internship experience returning to her alma mater, Clovis High School, to work with teen mothers and infants at the school’s free day care program.

Rodems has fed, played with, changed diapers, and took care of infants that are 14 months old or younger, three days a week for a combined seven to eight hours. She interacted with mothers one class period each day and also received regular direction from a full-time supervisor. The same supervisor also worked with mothers on parenting topics and academic assistance to keep them on schedule to graduate - a requirement of the program.

For her research project, she examined high school drop-out issues with teen mothers and used the structural functionalism theory and related it to the Title IX federal law as a proposed solution.

“The theory relates to a community working together to help meet each individuals’ needs which in turn strengthens the community,” Rodems said. “I used Title IX’s requirement for equal access and treatment and applied it to teenage mothers in schools so they can have the same right to be students, and ultimately graduate and help society.”

Rodems said the internship and class have proved especially enlightening as a key point on her professional path.

“It’s been great developing the relationships with mothers and infants,” Rodems said. “I had been around babies a little beforehand, but this really taught me a lot about their daily needs. Also being able to learn from other students in class who interned at places like a suicide hotline confirmed that counseling might be my ultimate career direction. Whatever way it ends up, I’ve learned about how important it is to be sensitive to others’ needs and be available to communicate with them in any way they need.”

Her sister had also worked in a similar role at Clovis High School, and had shared on how much she enjoyed the program. Elizabeth can now see first-hand the rewards.

“It was something I was really interested in and I wanted to experience, too,” Rodems said. “Seeing the babies get older and learn how to crawl or walk is so amazing, and I’ll be sad when it’ll be over. It’s also been a good because my experience from working with the moms emotionally can apply to a high school counseling career if