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Internships: changing lives, building résumés

October 30, 2013
From left: Melissa Creamer, Rebecca Stevens and T.J. Schoonover

From left: Melissa Creamer, Rebecca Stevens and T.J. Schoonover

Ashley, a junior majoring in public health at NIU, is looking for a particular type of experience.

“I have the people skills, but I need more experience in the health field,” she says. “I want to be a physician’s assistant, so I’m looking for something that will provide patient contact hours.”

Ashley can find exactly what she needs through an internship with the Kendall County Health Department, says Melissa Creamer, the department’s Community Action unit coordinator.

“We offer internships in environmental health, community health services, mental health services, and community action, which includes providing energy assistance, home weatherization, scholarships, emergency services and other referrals to clients,” Creamer says. “We offer flexible schedules, and the semester-long internship is an excellent resume-builder.”

Creamer gave a presentation on internships Tuesday evening as part of the 2013 Sociology Week series of events. She speaks from experience, having interned with the Kendall County Health Department while earning her master’s degree in social work from NIU.

Kendall County Health Department logo“I worked full time, went to school full time and completed an internship with the health department, so I know how hard it can be. But the benefits are tremendous. When I graduated, I volunteered (at the health department) until a position came open. So, I’m a good example of how an internship can turn into a job and a career.”

T.J. Schoonover agrees.

An NIU graduate, Schoonover also interned with the health department while earning his master’s degree. He now works there full-time.

“It worked out well for me,” he says. “As an undergraduate student, I didn’t think an internship was that important. But when I was working toward my master’s degree, I came to Melissa’s presentation during Sociology Week, and she changed my mind. I applied for an internship and it was a great experience. Now, I think everyone should do an internship.”

Rebecca Stevens, a sociology major who recently completed an internship with the health department, agrees.

“It was a good learning experience. I learned how to communicate with people, how to interact more effectively with them. I definitely gained a better understanding of how to work with people who are in crisis situations.”

Creamer says the health department offers internship experiences that will benefit all majors.

Kendall County Health Department building“Interns are a gift to me. I really appreciate them being there. We have so many clients, and there is such a tremendous need. The health department is the place to intern if you want a truly fulfilling, make-a-difference kind of experience.”

For more information or to apply, contact Creamer at (630) 553-9100, ext. 8013, or [email protected].

Sociology Week events continue tonight with presentations on internships and careers in the fields of court services, intellectual disabilities and substance abuse treatment programs.

To learn more about Sociology Week, call (815) 753-6440 or email [email protected].