Editor's Note - This is the fifth in a series of "Summer Intern Chronicles" that Cape Cod Today will publish throughout the season. Many local college students undertake internship experiences during summer break. These internships can truly form a young person as a professional in their chosen career path. For many, the internship is their first work experience in the career they hope to pursue. These internship stories are intended to give the students an opportunity to share their experiences, showcase the work of their sponsoring organization and put in a plug for their college. The stories are written in the students' own words and published verbatim as submitted.
If your Cape & Islands or Plymouth organization hosts summer interns and you'd like them to participate, please email [email protected] and we will send you the project guidelines.
Andrew Menard from Westfield State University
My name is Andrew Menard and I am from Lunenburg, Mass., and I’ll be entering my senior year at Westfield State University studying Special Education. This summer I am living in Cotuit and interning at Latham Centers in Brewster. Latham’s residential school serves children/young adults who have special needs, including Prader-Willi syndrome or intellectual/developmental disability. I am working alongside special education teachers and staff of the school, as well as my supervisor, Assistant Principal Kara McDowell. My job at Latham is to work directly with the students to provide a well-rounded education and teach life-skills that they need to be independent.
After being at Latham for only a few weeks, I have already learned so much about myself and the students I work with that I never could have learned in a classroom. My ability to be patient and take a step back to analyze a situation before responding to it are two skills that I have been able to (and will continue to) develop over this summer. I have also been learning how to get to know each of my students on a deeper level by trying to learn about as many aspects of their life as possible and finding common interests to talk about, which is easier said than done. I have also been able to see how important it is for students to have a stable environment outside of school in order for them to succeed. Being a residential school, I have seen how a bad morning for a student can follow them into the classroom and throw off their whole day.
My professional outlook on what it means to work at a school has changed drastically since starting at Latham Centers. Working at Latham means that I am working alongside many other coworkers who are all trying to accomplish the same thing as me, which is to provide the best experience possible for the students we serve. Learning to work with a team and develop plans with so many coworkers was new to me, since I always thought of teaching as primarily having your own classroom with little help from others.
I found out about Latham Centers when Kara McDowell came to my school and gave a presentation about what Latham School is all about. I immediately was interested in working here because it was so different than what I thought I would be able to do with my education degree and I wanted to see what career options I have. As soon as I heard about this opportunity, I applied for the position and reached out to my grandparents to see if I could live at their house for the summer. When all the pieces came together, I packed my bags and moved to the Cape.
For anyone looking to do a summer internship, I highly recommend starting your search early and making a connection with at least one person from the institution that can guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have. I also recommend looking further away from home than you may have expected yourself to be. For me, spending my summer living on Cape Cod while also gaining an incredible experience was a welcome opportunity.