By Miriam Cook ’14

Tacoma’s Rescue Mission is a local nonprofit organization that provides shelter, food, services, and support for Pierce County residents who are homeless or facing major challenges. Through a number of programs, the Rescue Mission seeks to provide “help, hope, and healing to individuals and families in need.”

Tacoma Rescue Mission

After connecting with the Rescue Mission through volunteer work with her sorority, Sociology & Anthropology major Emma Collins ’14 wanted to get more involved. Emma pursued an internship for credit as an assistant career coach to Mission clients.

CES: What does your internship entail?

EC: I help clients research job opportunities, practice mock interviews, and write cover letters and resumes. I created a resource binder for clients with criminal records who were having difficulties attaining employment and presented my findings for a class.

I translate documents from Spanish to English for case-managers. And I conducted a survey of the residents of the Rescue Mission regarding the Mission’s programs. I’ll conclude my internship by helping to create a syllabus for teaching financial literacy.

CES: What are the most enjoyable and most challenging aspects of your internship?

EC: I particularly enjoy working one-on-one with the clients and spending time with their children.

Initially, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Rescue Mission’s residents’ traumatic experiences. But eventually I became better at compartmentalizing my emotions.

CES: How has this internship helped you define your career goals?

EC: I’ve learned about the various contexts, barriers and solutions for homeless families—and the complexities of the program-levels of a nonprofit, which will hopefully prepare me for my future jobs. I’d like to work in either development or management for nonprofits.

CES: What advice would you offer other students considering an internship in this field?

EC: I highly recommend that students intern at the Rescue Mission or a similar organization. My only advice is that students learn how to compartmentalize their experiences and emotions ASAP—especially if they’re working with people going through a terrible time in their lives. However, I think this is an important life skill, so you might as well learn it now before you enter the “real world.”

CES: You’re pursuing this internship for academic credit—working with a faculty sponsor in a department different from your major.  What’s that experience been like?

EC: My faculty sponsor, Kate Stirling, was amazing! She provided clear guidance, but was also open to hearing my suggestions. I was originally nervous about having a sponsor who is an economics professor, but it was fine because she is passionate and knowledgeable about my topic. She radiates joy and positive energy. I couldn’t have asked for a better sponsor.

Internship experiences like Emma’s are an incredible way to apply classroom knowledge, connect with the community on a greater level, and build towards career goals.

Interested in learning about the inner-workings of nonprofit organizations while contributing to the local community? Similar local, part-time opportunities can be found on InternshipLink in Cascade—in addition to paid, full-time, and summer internships nationwide. Want to get the most out of your experience? Contact CES to learn more about pursuing internships for credit.

© 2013 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound
Photo provided by Emma Collins