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My Internship Experience at Project Self Sufficiency

Submitted by: Chris Coraggio

By Chris Coraggio
On August 29, 2009

This summer, I completed a rather unconventional internship, which turned out to be more of a serious job.  I can't really give you a title, because I moved around the organization so much.  I worked at Project Self Sufficiency (PSS), a non-profit organization in Sussex County, New Jersey.  Overall, their goal is to create strong families.  We serve mostly single mothers who are either teen parents, or have been beaten or abandoned by their husbands.  Through their range of services, they hope the mothers achieve self sufficiency, usually by getting off of welfare.   

I was one of two interns, the other being a graduate student at Northwestern University.  It was pretty interesting that we were the only two male employees in the entire organization.  We worked together on various grants from the government, which included getting onto radio shows and news channels, recruiting candidates for our programs, running the programs, and complying with government standards for the grants.   

Later in the summer, I was trained as a career advisor and temporary counselor for clients.  As a career advisor, I had to administer various tests and go over their intake form from Work First New Jersey, which had confidential information about their personal lives.  I would integrate the information presented to me to help them schedule their personal and work life, work on their resume and cover letters, and suggest companies to apply to and people to contact to get back into the work force.  As a counselor, I would arrange transportation for those who needed it for their children or themselves, direct them to any other social services needed, or be there to talk about personal issues and direct them to a counselor specializing in that area. 

 Another part of my job was to teach classes for computer skills.  I taught classes from Microsoft Access to classes on email and the internet.  It was incredible teaching those who have not truly experienced using a mouse on a computer, or even electricity!

 The more technical side of my job was a project that would turn all the clients' files into an electronic database.  This was a relatively easy project, but it was hard making it simple for someone who doesn't even like to use email.  I also began a Business Development project for PSS, which included the creation of an outreach letter and a contacts database of local businesses, communicating with the Department of Commerce, and integrating my efforts with other PSS Divisions. 

 Overall, the experience was unforgettable.  The clients I met seemed to come from a different world than I lived in.  I worked directly under our Executive Director (think CEO).  I got paid like a beginning full-time employee.  While the jobs I performed were not entirely related to my fields of study, I learned skills that I could not anywhere else.  I know that I can leverage my experience at Project Self Sufficiency to land another incredible internship next summer.  

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