That’s a wrap! NCHT intern reflects on her experience

In September, the Trust welcomed its very first MSW Practicum intern, Stephanie Miller. Stephanie has been with the Trust on an eight-month assignment, working alongside our program staff in the field of macro-level social work. She has made herself a part of the team, volunteering to help wherever needed as she learns the ins and outs of running a health conversion foundation.

As Stephanie’s internship comes to a close at the end of April and we say goodbye to this wonderful team member, we asked her how the experience went and what advice she might offer others going into this field.

Q: First of all, what inspired you to pursue a career in social work, and how did you end up interning at NCHT?

A: I did not start out on the social work path; I actually went into the nursing program first. Once my mom passed away, I decided nursing was not for me. I went to work at Casper Reentry Center and loved case management so much that I decided to go into social work. I was only planning on doing the BSW program and a friend talked me into the MSW program. I have never been in macro work and decided this is the time to try it, so here I am at the Trust.

Q: What was the main focus of your work at the Trust? Could you describe a typical day or week in your role?

A: I have been doing a lot of learning here at the Trust. I do any project that is assigned to me. For example, I have coordinated an equity training series for the staff, put together partnership letters for our nonprofit partners, and communicated with nonprofits to give information when needed. I have also participated in the participatory grant making process with the Youth Empowerment Council members and I help take notes for the Natrona County SIM team meetings.

Q: What have you learned about the challenges that nonprofits in the community face, and how does the Trust address those?

A: Most of the nonprofits in the community face funding challenges. Some have inexperienced boards and lack board and staff development programs. The Trust has helped with grant opportunities and by offering board training. The WNN Director of Learning and Development position has been very helpful with the nonprofits as well as the grant writing assistance program.

Q: Did you work directly with any of the Trust’s nonprofit partners? What stands out most about those experiences?

A: I worked with several nonprofits. I would say I gained a lot of knowledge about the resources available in the community. I also learned more about the specifics of programs such as how they run, the populations they serve, who funds them, and what is needed to keep the program going.

Q: What skills and knowledge did you gain during your internship that you think will be valuable in your future career?

A: Building relationships in the community is very important. It’s very helpful knowing what each nonprofit does and the resources they offer to better help people in need. I also learned how slow change in the community can be. There are so many moving pieces to macro work. The trust-based approach when working with nonprofits is a great skill to have, and one I will continue to use.

Q: What advice would you give to other social work students or aspiring social workers who are interested in macro-level work?

A: Learn how to have hard conversations and make sure to always be honest. Prepare your heart to see problems in your community that lack the funding to change. Change is slow and you have to have patience.

The entire team at the Trust is so grateful for the many contributions Stephanie has made to the organization, and we hope her experiences here will add value to what is sure to be a successful future career. NCHT will continue to offer opportunities of mentorship and internship in years to come.