Learning Through Linking
Apr 08, 2011From sandbags to suicide prevention, Kathryn “Kat” Melheim ’11, Stillwater, Minn., stayed busy during her social work internship. Melheim interned with FirstLink, a nonprofit organization that works in Cass and Clay counties to coordinate community resources and volunteer services.
During her internship, Melheim spent a lot of time teaching seventh-grade students how to prevent suicide and get help for a friend. She discovered that, even though she doesn’t remember her middle school years fondly, she really enjoys working with youth.
“I really like seventh-graders,” Melheim says. “I always thought I would hate working with them. I remember my seventh-grade year and being full of angst.”
Later in the spring, she addressed a different sort of angst – the raging Red River. She spent many days behind the flood-fighting scenes – directing sandbagging volunteers, collecting volunteer forms and making sure everyone made it on the flood shuttles and to the sandbag sites. Her job was often unpredictable and intense, helping her realize that she enjoys spontaneity and uncertainty.
“I’ve discovered strengths I didn’t know I had and have been thrown into all sorts of different things,” she says.
By applying her classroom knowledge to the workplace, Melheim has a clearer sense of her future. She hopes to complete her master’s degree in social work and counsel youth who are homeless.