Some practical advice for the practicum student

Wood's Homes, Hands, Volunteers

By Beth MacLeod, Practicum Student

It was a gorgeous, sunny, March day in San Diego. The 25 degree heat was tempered by a soft ocean breeze and for the first time in months I let go of the nervous anticipation I had been holding. Then my phone rang. Was this the call I had been waiting on?

Standing there in the ocean breeze, I was offered a practicum placement with Eastside Family Centre and the Stabilization program at Wood’s Homes. Somehow, I managed to keep my voice calm enough on the phone to accept. Little did they know, I was dancing down the street. I was so excited, I completely forgot to ask any questions or clarify the offer.

When I was asked to write this blog, I enthusiastically agreed without asking myself the question of how I would capture this experience in words. I tried to tie together my own felt experience, my thoughts looking back on the practicum year, and the sage advice I was offered during my time at Wood’s Homes. I may never truly capture what it means to be a practicum student here, but I can assure you it is an experience to be grateful for.

In your practicum at Wood’s Homes you can expect to:

  • Be part of a team. There are diverse professionals within this agency who will support you in developing new skills and perspectives. Explore other programs, ask questions about others’ work, accept feedback from everyone who will give it to you, and seize opportunities to collaborate.
  • Share your professional interests. Your background can add to the perspectives and skills in the organization. Offer to lead groups, see clients whose stories interest you, share resources, or research strategies for the team.
  • Embrace discomfort. You may hope to see just one more session before you try one “like it.” You may start to wonder if a day will ever look the same. Take each change as a learning opportunity and you will never stop learning at Wood’s.
  • Be open to feedback. A wise practicum supervisor told me to remember that being reflective means accepting the positive feedback, as well as the negative. Don’t be afraid to accept feedback from the team and not just an individual.
  • Be supported and be a support. You will likely laugh, cry, and be frustrated with this wonderful team. It is okay to be a human being and be impacted by life and by the work. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to offer it when you are able.
  • Stay curious. Remember that it is an honour to hear someone’s story. Explore it with them. Be humbled by the strengths and resiliencies you see. Ask questions and accept that not knowing is part of the process.
  • Have fun! You can move from deep theoretical discussions to uproarious laughter on a Friday night at Eastside. You will have sessions that are creative and messy at residential. You will tease each other lightheartedly, tap into the candy drawer, and make more jokes than you had in you. You will enjoy this work and it will get you through the hardest stories and your biggest barriers.

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