Summer Intern Chronicles: Colleen Macdonald from Boston University

Intern at Latham Centers
Colleen Macdonald is a Boston University student interning with Latham Centers this summer (Latham Centers photo)

This story is part of a continuing 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.

Colleen Macdonald from Boston University

Hi, I am Colleen Macdonald and I live in Sandwich. I am entering my senior year at Boston University, majoring in counseling psychology and child life and family studies. This summer, I have had the opportunity to intern at Latham Centers' campus located in Brewster. Latham Centers provides residential care, treatment, and education for children between the ages of 8 and 22. The populations served are those with complex special needs, including those with Prader-Willi syndrome, a life-threatening disorder with no known cure. As an intern, I am working directly with the children in the school setting as well as with the education staff, counselors, and directly with Kara McDowell, the Assistant Principal. I also have the opportunity to work on school curriculums and attend meetings with staff members. This internship also allows me to work with the children in the residential setting. This allows me and other staff members to interact with the children in a more intimate environment and truly get to know each other.

This internship will be extremely beneficial for me in my future profession. I plan on working as a child life specialist, helping children and families cope while in a hospital setting, and providing developmentally and psychologically appropriate interventions to help create a normal and stress-free environment. Having hands-on experience working directly with children is my major focus.

I have already learned so much while interning at Latham. One of the biggest things I have learned is that when working with children, you have to make sure that you are always meeting the child's needs. Another thing that I have learned while working at Latham is that no two children are the same and that you must adapt your approach to best suit each child. One thing that I will be taking away from this internship and will implement in my future work is that when working with children, it is important to look at the whole situation, not just what is right in front of you. Often times when a child is acting out or having certain feelings, it is a combination of things that have led to that point.

Before starting this internship, I was not sure where my profession would take me. I had thought that I would be working in the city to allow me the best opportunities. However, Latham Centers has opened a new door for me. Although I had seen myself working at a children's hospital, my time at Latham has shown me that I am able to use what I am learning as a child life specialist to help those in the school and residential setting.  Although I am not sure where I will end up once I graduate, I can now say that Latham is in contention!

If I could give fellow college students advice when looking for an internship, I would tell them to start looking early. This is very important if students are looking on the Cape. There is not a large number of internships available on Cape Cod and many students are trying to get internships. Starting early and showing interest in the field will be extremely helpful. Also, trust what you have learned in school and go in ready to learn. Internships are a time for you to learn, see if you like your potential career, and try different things out. As an intern, you are not expected to know everything, so take the opportunity to ask questions of your fellow workers and just enjoy it!


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