“Year two, here we go”, I said to myself. It was a feeble attempt at calming my growing nerves as I started my second year field placement.
Walking into any agency as a new intern is an incredibly intimidating experience. With each rising level of the elevator on my way to the seventh floor of The Methodist Hospital, I felt my stomach turning to knots. But I reminded myself I’d already been through one year of Social Work training, and I was incredibly fortunate to be at such a great MACRO setting where I would be working in the Organizational Development and Training department.
And I had been picturing this moment in my head for months, ever since I’d learned I would be at Methodist. I didn’t quite know what to expect, and I was nervous that my first two days of Field wouldn’t go well. I imagined such catastrophes as getting lost on the way to the building and coming in an hour late on my first day, or crashing one of the computers in the office, or worst—looking like I was grossly unqualified for this position.
I managed to navigate the labyrinth that is the Texas Medical Center, and found the correct parking garage. I walked into my Field Supervisor’s office precisely at 9:00am. I spent the rest of the day getting acclimated to the hospital, receiving my Student Intern badge, and new employee materials. We discussed at length the type of work I’d be exposed to–talent management, change management, team development, strategic planning, educational classes, individual coaching, and a range of other services within the various levels of the organization. My nerves fell away steadily, and were quickly replaced with excitement and an impatience to get started.
On the second day, I felt much more at ease. I knew how to manage the parking garage, and I was fairly confident I wouldn’t fall into any misadventures. I also had the luck of interning alongside another GCSW student from my cohort during Foundation semester. We were able to wade through the uncertainties together, and it helped to not feel so alone. I had someone else who understood what I was going through as a student intern in a massive organization.
What I learned in the first 16 hours is that our Field Instructors are here to support us, especially within the first few weeks. They aren’t looking to find some defect with our knowledge or abilities. There is definitely a learning curve that all new students are awarded for the sheer fact that we are still learners.
Second, we aren’t supposed to have all the answers. I was so concerned with not wanting to look like a novice student that I failed to realize that is exactly what I am. And there is nothing wrong with that. The very best Social Workers all started right where I am right now—as a beginner. This is my time to ask as many questions as I can think of, to be unsure and afraid; and yes, my time to make mistakes.
I can’t wait to really get into my field work, and start the process of leveraging my strengths for projects and assignments, while working through my opportunities for growth. I am at an amazing field placement, and this is my time to absorb and learn everything I possibly can. I’ll wear my Student Intern badge proudly, and instead of wasting energy being anxious and frightened, I plan to appreciate and take full advantage of the next 224 hours.