Walking through the Hoover-Price Campus Center (HPCC) sometime in September my freshman year I noticed there were a lot of tables set-up outside the cafeteria and noticed it was a job and internship fair. It didn’t really interest me too much and I was really pretty excited it was nacho bar day at lunch and I wanted to keep my eye on the prize, but ya know what pulled me in? Free pens. I can directly link the best experience of my life thus far to my obsession with deals. What experience is that you ask? No it wasn’t the free pen as I’m sure I lost that the same day. Coming upon the table for autism internships was the most beautiful coincidence of my life. A free pen, a table, an information sheet, an online application and a short email later… I had an interview. And, soon after that, I had an offer to take one of the summer classroom intern positions at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism (CCCA).
The CCCA summer internship program was set up due in large part to the work of Dr. Turko of the Department of Psychology and is made up of three separate internships – classroom, research and social spies. Both the classroom and research internships take place at the center in Shaker Heights. The research interns collect and record data for center-wide research. Social spies work as camp counselors at one of two camps for typical kids that kids with Asperger disorder attend and work on their social skills without being separated from their peers. These interns are assigned to one or two campers and help them with anything they need.
The classroom internship, I obviously know a bit more about, since I was able to take part in it. These interns basically are given the opportunity, in most cases, to be taking on a role as a cognitive behavioral therapist (CBT), which are easily described as teachers. Each intern is put in one classroom and he or she stay there for the two months of the internship. As an intern in Intermediate 1B, which is students from about 11 to 16 years old, I worked with getting materials ready for the day, recording behavior data, implementing behavior plans, implemented curriculum/working one-on-one or one-on-two with students. It is impossible to describe how amazing an experience it is without experiencing it for yourself, so I urge anyone with an interest to at least apply… this year, next year or three years down the road, just do it sometime. Since the summer after my freshman year (2010), I have been able to volunteer there intermittently. I completed one semester of placement for an education class there, volunteered two days a week last summer and will volunteer one day a week next semester to fulfill my psychology internship requirement. I have made professional connections that will be indispensable in the future and hope that the CCCA will be a future place of employment.
Even if you’re not interested for this coming summer’s program, get familiar with it so you can apply in the future. Below is a flier, much like the one I picked up that fateful day in HPCC, so you can look it over and get to know the program!