Kelly Crotty ‘21, majoring in psychology and minoring in health science, receives rightful recognition for her astounding career development throughout her undergraduate career at Merrimack College. As Crotty has progressed throughout her undergraduate career, she sought to discover an opportunity that would allow her to further discern her career interests in a psychological field. As of the Spring Semester of 2020, Crotty has interned with Northeast Family Services, an organization based in Lawrence, Massachusetts, as a Behavioral Technician. Crotty now reflects upon her experience thus far with Northeast Family Services, her transition to remote work in ABA therapy, and how her internship experience transformed her professional development.
Q. What does your position entail at Northeast Family Services?
A. I’m a Behavioral Technician at Northeast Family Services, so that entails working one-on-one with a client on their specific behavioral needs, and implementing and overseeing their specific in-home treatment.
Since going remote, I now do telehealth on Mondays and Fridays for about an hour total. At first, our day-to-day routine would start with an online activity or game that the client would want to play for approximately a half hour. We then transition to overseeing a behavioral task that the client and I had typically practiced before going remote, such as ensuring they clean their room or complete their homework. Then, we watch a video with the client on a specific behavior depending on the client’s specific needs from the ABA therapy.
Q. What skills do you feel you have that are strengths to this internship? What new skills have you developed throughout your internship experience with Northeast Family Services?
A. I worked at a summer camp last summer as a supervisor, which gave me a ton of experience in learning how to work with children overall. At Merrimack, I’m involved with the Young Athletes Program, which also really helped me to gain experience in and develop an understanding of working with children with disabilities and their families. I’m also involved in Best Buddies at Merrimack, which I was involved with in high school too. I think all of these opportunities and different organizations helped me to gain a diversified experience of working with children of all age ranges and backgrounds, which is an incredibly important skill to have for the field I want to pursue after graduation.
Now, working with Northeast Family Services, I definitely think I’ve become more versatile in my experience with in-home therapy, which I never would have developed as a skill without this internship experience. I also think, since going remote with my internship, I’ve learned how to manage my time more wisely to conduct research on my own and plan sessions. Of course, I had to manage my time wisely and plan well before the transition to remote working, but telehealth requires even more preparation and research than before since I can’t be there in-person with the client. While working over Zoom, when I can’t be there in-person, it’s definitely a bit more challenging to implement a task and oversee how the client responds to it.
Q. How do you feel the O’Brien Center for Career Development has helped you throughout your time at Merrimack College in preparing you both for your current internship experience, as well as in preparing you for the working world? What resources have you found to be the most useful?
A. I definitely think attending on-campus events are helpful. I remember last semester I attended the Psychology Internship Fair and that’s actually where I found my internship with Northeast Family Services. I also think something as simple as meeting with your career advisor can be really beneficial. I actually met with my career advisor, Katie Fell, before I even attended the Psychology Internship Fair last semester, just to go over my resume to spiff it up. Katie even gave me a list of a ton of companies offering internship positions that might align with my career interests for me to apply to as well. She also went over all of my cover letters with me, which definitely helped because I feel as though writing a cover letter can sometimes be the most challenging and difficult part about applying for jobs and internships.
Aside from helping me with my resumes and cover letters, Katie also helped me to go over my Handshake profile and keep it up-to-date. She also showed me how to utilize other job searching platforms, such as Indeed.com, to look for and apply to internships. I’d definitely say that Katie has been the best resource for me, along with Handshake, in helping me advance my career development and achieve this internship experience.
Q. What advice do you have for current students who are looking for an internship, but don’t know how or where to start? What advice do you have for students who may not be aware of how important internship experiences can be?
A. Definitely meet with your career advisor! If it wasn’t for Katie Fell, I probably wouldn’t even have my current internship. She can help you get started, you just need to really be willing to do some serious research on what interests you and what different companies are looking for in your respective field so you can start working on those skills. I also think a huge part of that first step is just getting your resume accurate and in the right format, and the O’Brien Center can definitely help you with that.
In terms of seeking out and landing an internship, I definitely recommend pursuing an opportunity that seems like something you know you’ll want to do every day, or something you think will help you to better discern a career path if you still aren’t sure what you want to do. I know that for me, if I never had this internship, I never would have realized what specific types of therapy would best suit my career interests and what I wanted to do with my degree.
Internships are also just a great way to get out there and network with people in your desired career field. Networking and getting that experience overall are absolutely some of the most important aspects of an internship.
I also want to add that Northeast Family Services has internship positions in areas other than ABA therapy, such as in-home therapy and out-patient therapy as well. If there are any students interested in those aspects of psychology and career paths, I definitely recommend looking into opportunities with Northeast Family Services. I know they’ll be staying operational over the summer, so it’s definitely worth checking them out!
Q. What advice do you have for students looking for a job or internship in the current climate amidst the COVID-19 pandemic?
A. I know a lot of people think or are afraid that most of the summer internships aren’t going to happen anymore given the current situation. I would say that, even if you think that way, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t keep looking for internships or even job opportunities. I know a lot of my friends were afraid they’d lose their internships for the summer, and now they’ll just be working remotely until it’s safe to start going into the office. Don’t stop looking, even if you don’t think you’ll find something right away. You never know what might pop up!
As the spring semester comes to a close, there are still plenty of ways in which you can advance your career development amid the current situation if your professional development remains a priority for you during this difficult time. Visit our What Now? page to discover a series of next steps to take in order to continue your professional development journey and internship search amidst the COVID-19 crisis, or schedule a virtual appointment with your career advisor on Handshake to discuss your unique career development plan.
Written By: Kerry Reynolds, Class of 2021