OSUM psychology students getting more real-life exposure

News Release Date: 

Written by Kurt Moore, The Marion Star
Mar. 14, 2012

MARION -- Psychology majors are getting a chance to try out their skills while learning what they do -- and don't -- like about their future profession.

The Ohio State University at Marion's psychology department is working to increase its internship opportunities for students through connecting with agencies including the Marion Shelter Program and the Contact Careline crisis call center. Students recently shared their experiences while speaking at an Ohio State at Marion Psychology Club meeting.

"We are hoping to build this," professor Terry Pettijohn said.

Students Jackie Dietsch and Carrie Lee interned through winter quarter at the Marion Shelter Program, which operates a homeless shelter for women and children and another for men. While not necessarily counseling residents, they spoke to residents and organized activities to help them build their coping skills.

It gave them experiences including both the pleasure of getting to help others and the frustration when they didn't necessarily feel they were successful.

"I feel like having this chance will solidify my resume. I know I would like to work with people," Lee said. "Your heartstrings do kind of get played."

"You have to work a teeter-totter of empathy, care and discipline. That has to be the hardest part of this," Dietsch said.

She said the first few weeks were hard as they got to know the residents and learn about their struggles.

"You do start to feel guilty, (because) you have all these things and these people don't," she said. "You have to keep in your mind this is your job."

Marion Shelter Program executive director Chuck Bulick called this first experience a success and said two more interns will be welcomed next quarter. He called it a "win-win," saying he appreciates the chance to offer more assistance to residents and to help students get experience in service learning.

"They get to see in action what they learn from their textbooks," he said.

Dietsch, who saw both the struggles as well as a few residents who found other living arrangements, said the experience changed her perception of rural homelessness. She also discovered she may not specifically want to get into the field of clinical psychology.

"It's something you can't get from classwork," Pettijohn said of the chance to "try it out and maybe not like it."

He is talking to other social agencies to pursue more internship opportunities. Any agencies interested may contact him at pettijohn .1@osu.edu.

Reporter Kurt Moore: 740-375-5151 or kdmoore@marionstar.com