Student Converts Internship into Part-time Job



By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.

The COVID-19 pandemic shifted the internships that many students had to online/virtual work and in some cases, forced the cancellation of the experiences.  But one UofL student took advantage of the situation to convert her internship into a part-time work experience.

Emily Burden is a graduate student in Social Work from Grand Blanc, Michigan and she will graduate this May.  She had been working as an intern for Uniting Partners (UP) for Women and Children for several months when the public health crisis worsened last spring and halted her academic internship. UP is an agency that works with homeless women and children.  But, with the end of her on-site learning experience, UP hired Burden as a part-time case manager.  Today she is still an employee with UP, as well as now using the experience as a work-based practicum course in the Social Work graduate program.

Emily Burden

Emily Burden

Burden works on-site two days a week with UP clients. She is also doing advocacy and social justice-related work remotely. “For example, once a month I meet with community members to discuss Identification/Driver’s License reform in Kentucky for those experiencing homelessness. I like remote meetings like these because I can engage with our partnered agency members.”  But Burden also finds the remote work experiences challenging because, “I do better in a physical space with my co-workers, peers, and clients. I really like the hands-on learning and first-hand experience. I also struggle with time management so, working from home has its challenges.”

Burden is finding her work experience with UP personally rewarding.  “I like meeting women and their children who are experiencing homelessness and watching them work towards obtaining housing, all while providing services and motivation so that they may become empowered and self-sufficient to maintain their new home and take care of their families.”

At the same time, Burden is gaining important experience that furthers her ambition.  “My practicum fits into my career/professional plans as I want to learn more about marginalized populations, advocacy, grant writing, nonprofit management and policy reform. I have the opportunity to experience all of these things at UP and I’m so fortunate.”

Burden hopes other students will take the initiative to get practical work experience while they are students at UofL.  “My advice for those that are interested in doing an internship or practicum but are somewhat hesitant or nervous about it is to just jump in. Just go for it. You really have nothing to lose, you will only have vast opportunities to gain experience, knowledge, and maybe even a paid job in the end!”

If you want to hear about other student internships, the University Career Center has posted a virtual session with a group of students talking about their internships and providing advice about how to make the most out of the experiences.  You can find out more about internships on the UCC Internship website, plus review our recent virtual workshop Interning 101. If you are interested in obtaining academic credit for your internship or co-op, be sure to reach out to the coordinator/director in your UofL academic program