Social Work Intern Building a Better Future for Kids


By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.

Internships and co-ops can certainly help students advance their career ambitions. But in many instances, these work experiences also provide important benefits to our community.  Kayce Dallas is continuing an internship that does just that.

The Henderson, Kentucky graduate student is working toward an M.S. degree in Social Work and will graduate in May.  Dallas has been interning with Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA) for more than a year now. KYA advocates for policies in the state that benefit and protect children.  Dallas has worked on initiatives that address problems with child abuse, neglect, and other “adverse childhood experiences.” Her internship has included research, focus groups, website, and blog work, drafting grant applications, and helping to plan “Child Advocacy Week.”


Kayce Dallas

In the midst of a global pandemic, Dallas, like many other students, has been doing her internship work remotely and she said that brings some added challenges beyond her workload. “It is hard sometimes to find motivation and zoom fatigue is a real thing! I have also found that it is harder to separate myself from the work.”  On the other hand, Dallas said, “I love the work so much that I continue to do assignments even after my office hours are over. And, I like being able to work from home because I don’t have to drive 30 minutes to the office and I can develop my own schedule.”

Dallas said the internship has helped her to find a niche in the social work field that she wants to pursue after graduation.  "Originally all I wanted to do was microwork. I wanted to help children who had been through trauma. Although that is still a passion of mine, I have now fallen in love with macro social work. I love working with many different partner organizations on a common cause. I love to watch how policies come to the table, choosing bill sponsors, and then seeing the testimonies in session.”

Dallas is greatly appreciative of the opportunity that has been afforded to her.  “I love how supportive Kentucky Youth Advocates staff are, no matter what their role. I know I can reach out to any of them for help with school assignments, to talk about my resume, or discuss job opportunities. I also love how I can wear many different hats. I am getting a well-rounded experience at Kentucky Youth Advocates that I do not think I could get anywhere else.”

Dallas thinks other students can utilize internships to build relevant experience and to try out something new.  “I already had so much experience in the micro field that I wanted something different. Do not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and try interning at an organization you are passionate about, but is outside your usual realm. The worst that can happen is you get experience and learn that is not what you want to do.”

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.