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Gaudenzia’s Behavioral Health Internship Program

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Tomorrow is National Intern Day and to get ready, we’re excited to highlight Gaudenzia’s behavioral health internship program, along with introducing our amazing Clinical Internship Program Manager, Rayn Phillips.

Gaudenzia’s behavioral health internship program provides a range of cross-disciplinary opportunities within the context of substance use and co-occurring disorders treatment. Currently, the program offers internships in counseling, social work (micro, mezzo, and macro practice), nursing, risk management, IT, and more (as opportunities continue to expand).

Throughout the 21-22 academic calendar year (Fall to Summer semesters), Gaudenzia has hosted 35 interns, including 32 counseling interns, one nursing intern, and two IT interns.

Meet Our Clinical Internship Program Manager: Rayn Phillips

Gaudenzia’s Behavioral Health Internship Program
Rayn Phillips, Clinical Internship Program Manager

Prior to joining Gaudenzia in December 2021, Rayn worked in education for nearly a decade. A true testament that hard work pays off, Rayn began her career as an intern with AVID, a college access and preparatory program active in seven Philadelphia district schools. From her internship, she transitioned into employment, doing K-16 partnerships work as the AVID Program Coordinator at PHENND (under the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania). During this time, Rayn worked with college tutor volunteers and interns to implement the AVID program.

Rayn is a licensed social worker and holds an MSW from Rutgers University School of Social Work, with a focus on Management and Policy (including advocacy, program planning, and nonprofit management). She also holds an Advanced Graduate Studies Certificate in Trauma and Community Counseling from Thomas Jefferson University. She has worked extensively in K-12 settings, providing individual counseling, group counseling, teaching Social Emotional Learning, and engaging in community partnerships work.

Here’s what Rayn had to say about her professional journey so far:

“Community collaboration internally and externally has always been exciting to me—it’s an amazing feeling to accomplish a goal as a team, rather than when siloed in our work. Even more important, to do so in a trauma-informed way. At the same time, there hasn’t been a role that has occupied my time professionally where I didn’t work with college students. It’s either been a part of my position description, was a part of my work because of collaborating with colleges and universities for school-based programming, or I have advocated to provide placement for student interns.”

We’re so grateful to Rayn for taking the time to answer our questions. Keep reading to learn more about Rayn’s work at Gaudenzia and how our internship program is evolving to help cultivate the next generation of helping professionals.

Could You Please Describe Your Role as the Clinical Internship Coordinator at Gaudenzia?

RP: My role is divided into three realms. First, I design, manage, and evaluate our internship program across all regions in the agency with, of course, the collaboration and feedback of our program staff. I serve as the liaison between the agency and our University/College partners to ensure that our internship program is aligned with their academic and professional standards. I also work with HR to develop metrics that will allow us to transition eligible interns into permanent, full-time employees, and lastly, I broker relationships with colleges and universities for staff to continue their education at a discounted tuition rate.

What Are Your Goals for Gaudenzia’s Internship Program?

RP: My biggest goal is to design a program that provides robust, experiential learning opportunities for interns and volunteers that are multidisciplinary and support clients and staff at the agency. Another goal is that the program provides a pathway for a passionate individual who is either new to the field, or advancing in the field, to gain an employment opportunity, or an opportunity for advancement for current employees in a degree program or interested in continuing their education. Change is a collaborative effort and requires diversity in experience, knowledge, and profession.

What Do You Most Hope Interns Will Gain From this Program?

RP: Short-term, I hope interns gain insight into what impact looks like for them professionally. It’s important to learn, before you graduate, what you can do, what you don’t want to do — what you may not be the best at — and identify gaps in learning and experience. Mid-term, I hope our interns gain valuable experiences that empower them and give them a firm reminder that, objectively, they CAN do the work. Long-term, I hope they excel in their internship, and in time, become permanent employees at the agency.

What is the Internship Application and Selection Process Like?

RP: Interns can apply online on our internship webpage. We typically contact applicants in 10 business days for an interview. We select interns based on their responses during the interview process, their availability (we do not provide evening and weekend internships at this time), their professional goals, and their academic program’s requirements.

What Are Your Proudest Accomplishments with Gaudenzia’s Internship Program So Far?

RP: I’m proud of the internal partnerships I’ve made through the opportunity to work with my colleagues at our program sites that have hosted interns, in leadership, and at corporate. Whenever a colleague expresses policy and procedural nuances, it helps me strengthen my focus, as well as the program design. By working with HR, our regional executives, program directors, and clinical supervisors, I’ve been able to design interns’ position descriptions based on what would be appropriate at their education level, consider roles that they could apply for, and begin to consider internally and externally, an intern’s transition from an internship to employment.

What Advice Would You Give Students Considering a Behavioral Health Internship at Gaudenzia?

RP: The earlier you apply, the better. Be passionate about where you want to be in your learning and professional development. When working with interns, it’s important to acknowledge that they’re here to learn and find their niche. Knowing what you want to get out of an internship, whether it is for an academic requirement or experience, is imperative.

Be pragmatic, critical, and kind to yourself. If you are coming into this as a student, think about what you’ve learned in your classes thus far. Consider how you want to be engaged based on what you learn. Think about how much time you are willing and able to put into an internship. Think about how to make that timeframe work for where you want to be professionally at the end of it. View it as an investment in yourself. If you can only show up for one day for eight hours, or 16 hours, what would you want that experience to look like? How comfortable are you with challenging yourself to gain that experience?

Every experience, both good and bad, is a worthwhile learning experience.

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