The Applied Psychology course at St. Francis College offers students attending class an exciting field assignment. Psychology students were required to participate and complete 100 hours of community service. Namely, a volunteer or internship involving their particular interest related to the field of psychology. While students may initially feel overwhelmed at the idea of allocating their time between the demands of a full semester and for some, working part or full-time jobs. The opportunity to experience and complete a volunteer assignment is extremely beneficial towards any future career aspirations.
Even more, interacting and working with employers and supervisors from diverse professional fields is an important step for networking. Subsequently, students find their experiences working with children, the elderly, patients who are ill or suffer from a medical conditions and their staff members to incredibly rewarding. To begin with, the process of selecting and finding a community service/volunteer position required updating resumes and producing a well written cover letter. Concerning this, learning to prepare a resume is a vital skill for any employment consideration.
Afterwards, searching and contacting a prospective organization is another step towards finding a position and for college students serves as a chance to explore and consider fields of interest post-graduation. With regards to this, finding an organization with matching interests and an accommodating work schedule can be frustrating. Due to the deadline and time considerations, getting successfully hired as early as possible in the semester was at times stressful. Many prospective organizations and offers did not match or were not feasible given the points previously mentioned.
But, as part of the overall experience of seeking and gaining any future employment, this, in my opinion was the most enlightening part of the overall process. For the reason that, it gave myself and fellow classmates a glimpse of the future and sample of what to expect in choosing a career in the field of psychology or any other employment. At any rate, my first volunteer position was with A Free Bird Organization specializing in public relations. Indeed, this is a field that is personally exciting and offers the chance to interact with the public and involves promotion and marketing.
Public relations involves the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company, organization or a famous person. Considering this, the job duties of my position were to be, maintaining and updating several social media pages incorporating Face Book, Twitter, and Instagram. Additionally, contacting potential clients, companies, organizations, philanthropists and even, celebrities via phone and social media. However, my sole affiliation with a Free Bird Organization involved attending their first annual Arts Fair located in midtown Manhattan at the Hartley House.
As discussed during class time, this event was sponsored for children who survived and beat cancer. Although this was a very moving experience, interacting with brave children and being lucky to share the festivities with them. My participation was very limited, due to the over-staffing of volunteers who were selected for this night. Notwithstanding this, I was not able to secure a recurring role with A Free Bird, for the possible reason of my unfamiliarity using Instagram disclosed during my following interview.
Incidentally, the Human resources director who interviewed me did not immediately disqualify me and instructed me to expect an email or phonecall concerning the next step in the process. Unfortunately, there was no further communication as no email or phone call was ever received by me and forced myself to explore new endeavors. While this might be a bit unprofessional on their part, it must be taken into consideration that they are operating with a small limited staff, and may in fact be overwhelmed with the number of applications.
As noted previously, securing a steady position in a timely fashion was my main priority, in order to properly complete my remaining 95 and a half hours of required community services. Considering this, other potential options were to explore teer opportunities in hospitals or clinics. Thus. I recalled my friend Fernando Moreno M. D. , who has worked at Jamaica Hospital in Queens, NY for several years and proceeded to phone him and inquire. Being a friend, as well as a sweet, dear person, he offered to sponsor me and avoid the hassle of the application and interview process after informing him of my time constraint concerns.
Here, this was another valuable lesson concerning future job employment with regards to networking. Sometimes, having a friend, relative, or simply knowing someone who works in a prospective company can be an asset. Next, my introduction and start at Jamaica Hospital began with the realization of a one-hour subway ride and a subsequent 15 minute bus ride, each way that would entail each of my shifts. Jamaica Hospital’s policy requirement concerning all volunteer is a 12 hour weekly schedule which consists of one 4-hour weekday shift and one 8-hour weekend day.
With consideration to my school and work schedule, my eventual volunteer schedule was a 4-hour Friday and 8-hour Saturday schedule for approximately 9 weeks. Under those circumstances, my Friday shift provided me with the chance to work in the Trump Pavilion which is the hospital’s nursing home and rehabilitation site for the elderly. By the way, this was named after Donald Trump’s mother who was named Mary and was built in 1975. Anyhow, the idea of interacting and working with elderly patients immediately drew my interest because one of my possible career aspirations in psychology includes working in a hospital or clinical environment.
Also, elderly patients provide a unique chance to develop communication and professional skills in a medical facility, not to mention, discovering the diverse personalities and the ability to help in any manner possible. Overall, volunteers were instructed to subtly mingle and interact with patients during their weekly Friday, post-dinner entertainment provided by the nursing home. Movies, games, performers were a staple on Friday nights and it was here, where I developed a few relationships with the tenured patients.
Namely, Marvin and Beverly whom after our first encounter, we continued weekly rituals of discussing family, history and life in general in between and during the entertainment provided. Personally, this was my favorite part of the entire duration and found myself looking forward to these gatherings. Conversely, during my third week I experienced the harsh reality of working in a hospital. Particularly, with the elderly, who significantly suffer from a variety of medical ailments. Specifically, during the viewing of a movie, one of the patients became ill, needing medical assistance and was removed to receive help.
This produced an uncomfortable feeling in me, because seeing anyone suffer is unpleasant and dealing with these unpredictable circumstances is part of any hospital or medical environment. One of the nurses’ on staff may have noticed that I became visibly shaken and offered “these things are to be expected and become routine for any hospital worker. ” Regarding this, when considering a career at any level in a hospital environment, these are events and conditions one must be prepared for, from a human relation and training standpoint. Fortunately, this was the only unpleasant experience working in the nursing home.
After this, my Saturday duties were not as personable but did eventually involve interaction with the public and incoming patients. To begin with, for my first, second, and third Saturday shift, I was relegated to retrieving and opening boxes of pamphlets, printing paper and other literature. Next, my duties requires placing, delivering and distributing these articles in preselected areas of the building and specified offices. While this was a good way to become familiar with the location and interact with different hospital staff, I felt this was not a good and proper use of volunteer time or manpower.
Not only was this taking advantage of free labor, it also serves to remove potential employment for someone else. However, Jamaica Hospital is a business, and does take in its fair share of uninsured patients. Speaking about this, eventually I was assigned to handing out literature concerning insurance and healthcare to admitted patients and in a separate outside work station. Here, volunteers were recommended to engage the public and inquire if they were interested or in need of healthcare.
After, any person showing interest or having questions were directed to a qualified representative to assist them. To conclude with, my time and experience as a volunteer was fairly enjoyable and I believe the experience gained will be beneficial towards any other future endeavors. Of course, the only drawback was the limitation of time between school, working my job and the long public transportation ride, which doubled as a study session for other classes. Lastly, I hope future students in the Applied Psychology class, will also benefit greatly while completing their own volunteer assignments.