Social work students overcome virtual obstacles in internships

The Diana R. Garland School of Social Work is transitioning internships to a hybrid format due to COVID-19 concerns. Christina Cannady | Photographer

By Jillian Veldey | Reporter

Due to COVID-19, the Garland School of Social Work had to transfer their normally in-person internships to a hybrid format.

Before the pandemic, internships were in-person only. However, students this year were given the choice of either participating in a virtual or in-person internship. Despite students electing to complete the internship in person, clients can still choose to have virtual sessions if that’s what makes them feel most comfortable.

Katy senior Jamie Schuerg, a social work major, said that even though her internship is in person, it can sometimes be challenging to adjust to a virtual setting for the client.

“The most challenging part is reaching clients who are working remotely from home, not physically present at school,” Schuerg said. “The last thing most children want to do is spend more time on Zoom when it’s not required.”

People of all ages, not just children, can often feel fed up with the countless virtual obligations that are now considered part of the new normal. A lack of connection can also lead to problems with mental health.

North Richland Hills senior and social work major Haley Morris said client contact is much more difficult to come by due to COVID-19 restrictions and regulations.

“Supplemental internship hours are a lifeline for those doing a virtual internship,” Morris said. “This looks like reading books, listening to podcasts, attending virtual seminars and more that may inform a student’s practice.”

According to students in the program who elected to do an in-person internship, safety for everyone involved seems to be a main priority of the university. If in-person contact is required for the internship, students observe strict guidelines to minimize the chance that COVID-19 is spread in the process.

Schuerg said that safety is at the forefront of her in-person internship.

“My internship is in a local public school, so PPE and cleaning supplies are provided. After each in-person meeting, I must wipe down all surfaces with the provided disinfectant and note that I met with them in case it is needed for tracing purposes,” Schuerg said. “My temperature is checked at the door and all employees must fill out a self-screen report before they begin the day.”

Even though students are adjusting to either working virtually or maintaining strict health guidelines, Morris said she still thinks what she’s doing at her internship is worth it.

“All the wins definitely outshine all of the obstacles, making it all worth it,” Morris said. “Our clients are worth every obstacle that comes our way to ensure they are safe and healthy.”