Intern Spotlight: Suzanne Knight

Suzanne Knight

Suzanne Knight (May 2013)
Major: Social Work
Minor: Health & Family Studies
Internship: Administrative Intern with the Juvenile Justice and Mental Health Divisions of the Rock County Department of Human Services


How did you find out about this internship? What interested you in the opportunity?

As a social work major, we are required to complete an internship for our last 12 credits before we graduate. I knew that I wanted to get the best experience that I could, as this would be my first time being in the social work field. I was interested in obtaining an internship that was unlike any experience that I have previously had. I wanted to gain experience and knowledge that I had not formerly had. I was interested in an internship in the Juvenile Justice division, because I did not know much about the juvenile justice piece of social work, and it was intriguing to me. I also wanted to complete an internship in administrative social work, because I am hoping to be an administrative social worker one day, after I receive my Master’s degree in Social Work with an emphasis in Leadership.

I found out about this internship through one of my professors who works very closely with my supervisor. She approached me about this internship, as she thought I would be a great fit for the position. I immediately contacted the agency, and the rest is history.

Describe your internship experience.

I have many responsibilities at my internship. I assist [my supervisor] Amanda with planning and executing Aggression Replacement Training (ART), which many social workers across the state attend. I sit on many committees within the County, such as the Coordinating Services Team committees and subcommittees. I am planning and executing a Peer Support Specialist informational meeting, which we are hoping to inform and recruit Peer Support Specialists from a variety of Mental Health and AODA clients in Rock County. This is an informational meeting that is open to the entire population, and it will be held at the end of March.

I research and help implement new, innovative ideas for both the Mental Health and Juvenile Justice divisions. Much of my research is being used currently within the system. I assisted in developing a new diversion program that is being implemented for both children and parents that face difficulties within their relationship whether it’s abuse, neglect, etc.

I assist with various tasks such as budget proposals and grant writing, among other various responsibilities. I assist the County with coordinating outside resources from the community to come in and speak with our Human Services Department Staff of over 150 employees about various issues, such as trauma-informed care, motivational interviewing, how to implement evidence-based practice in their every day work, etc. I am currently in the process of putting together a resource manual that highlights the Juvenile Justice division and its various evidence-based programs. When completed, this manual will be presented to not only the entire Juvenile Justice division, but the Rock County Human Services Department board.

I also assist in the different programs that the Juvenile Justice division offers, such as Weekend Report and the Youth Services Center. At Weekend Report and the Youth Services Center, I assist the juvenile with whatever they may need, whether that is teaching them skills to better themselves in the community, moral reasoning, or just to lend them a helping hand. I also attend various conferences and trainings to improve my skills as a social worker. These conferences include the YES! Summit, which focused on trauma-informed care, and the Aggression Replacement Training (ART). I also sit in on the Rock County truancy meeting, where we meet with juveniles that are facing truancy issues from not attending school and develop ways to assist them. The goal of our truancy committee is to not only figure out the reason this student does not regularly attend school, but how we can provide the means for them to get to school.

All in all, I help out in the Rock County Human Services Department in any way that I can.

What have you learned during your internship experience? How does this opportunity relate to your career goals?

I have had many enriching experiences in my internship that will be useful when I am in the Social Work field. I have gained knowledge, skills and values that I truly believe I would not have gained without this internship. I have learned how to effectively work with individuals, groups, communities and other organizations. I have learned what it is like to work in a professional environment, and how important communication and other various skills are in being successful in the field. I have gained skills in management and administration that will be of assistance in my future endeavors in the social work field.

The administrative opportunity that I have been given in social work is directly related to my future career path. I will be attending graduate school, majoring in Social Work, with an emphasis in Leadership, in hopes to be an administrative social worker. I hope to be a director of a non-profit organization one day, so having this experience in an administrative setting will be beneficial in many ways.

What advice would you give other students about internships?

Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes internships can be intimidating, because for most people, an internship is the first time that a student will get experience in their field of study. To many, including myself, this is intimidating because it can lead to many unknowns.

Ask your internship supervisor questions. Many times supervisors will throw you right in the deep end, just to see if you can float. At first, this can be threatening, but it will test your knowledge and skills that you have gained in preparation for an internship, whether it be through classes, organizations, etc. Supervisors enjoy when their interns ask questions, so do not be afraid to do so. Furthermore, supervisors do not expect their interns to know how to perfectly perform every task and duty that is given to them at first, so they anticipate you to ask for their guidance.

Finally, most of the time supervisors request interns, so they are happy that you are there to work with them and be of assistance to them! Make sure that you are making the best of the enriching experience that you are gaining through your internship, as it will be of much assistance for future endeavors in your career path.

What did Suzanne’s supervisor have to say?

During her first days with the County, Suzanne was a tremendous asset in helping me to plan our ART (Aggression Replacement Training). Suzanne jumped right in and was able to assist with anything I asked of her, from making coffee in the morning to helping and assisting the facilitator of the training when I needed to leave the room.

Suzanne is currently working on putting together a resource binder for the division. The resource binder will highlight all of the evidence-based programs and curricula used within the division. The finished product will be distributed to staff within the organization and to the Rock County Human Services Department Board members. The manual will be a living document of the services provided to youth and families, and will be continually updated over time. Suzanne will be recognized for developing this manual.

Suzanne has been one of the best interns we have had in Juvenile Justice.

Congratulations Suzanne on being selected as UW-Whitewater Intern of the Month for April 2013!

Are you having or have you had an outstanding internship experience like Suzanne? Tell employers, faculty, and, of course, fellow UW-Whitewater students what makes/made your internship experience so great! Be featured in the Intern Spotlight! To learn more, visit the UWW Intern of the Month Program page.

Be sure to check out past featured students’ stories as well!