Working Warriors: Alexa Tejeda ’22 Discovers New Career Possibilities with Supportive Living Neurofit Internship

Alexa Tejeda ’22 holds it all in balance: athletics, academics, and her own career development. As an Honors Program student leader, a varsity swimmer, and an exercise teacher on campus, she’s somehow found time for her latest accomplishment: an internship with Supportive Living as a neurofit intern! We’re so proud to feature her, as she joins us to discuss the new role, balancing time-consuming commitments, and her advice to fellow student athletes.

Hey Alexa! A HUGE congratulations on your current internship with Supportive Living! It’s your first internship experience—how has it been so far? What are you doing in your role?

Thank you so much! The experience has been amazing so far. I am learning so much every time I am there! I love working with the participants and helping them progress towards their goals. In my role, we work with brain injury survivors, and create and coach them through their exercise programs that are tailored to them. We make sure that their programs accommodate their goals and their limitations too!

As an exercise science student, you’re kind of in a tough spot with Covid-19. Did that impact the opportunities available to you, with so much work needing to be in-person? If so, how did you navigate the internship search?

When looking for an internship, there weren’t many opportunities that were in-person. I think it was hard, trying to find something that would help me in my future career. I want to go into physical therapy, and I think hands-on experience is most important; I don’t think I would get that same experience being remote.

Definitely—I’m glad you’re getting that hands-on experience after all! Is this role where you want to be long-term, or do you have other aspirations down the road?

I want to get my doctorate in physical therapy, so I don’t think this role would be long-term for me. However, it did expose me to a new population that I would never get the opportunity to work with if I had a different internship. Working with a special population, like brain injury survivors, is something that I never experienced before. Now, I want to learn more about it, and maybe continue a path connecting brain injury in PT.

That’s amazing! Even if you’re just connecting this experience to your primary goals, it sounds like this internship is really impacting you. What skills have you developed in your time with Supportive Living? What do you wish you had known prior to starting the internship?

I have never worked one-on-one with a participant before. And my only experience in the exercise field has been teaching group exercise classes at Merrimack. I learned how to communicate with participants when it came to correcting form, or teaching a new exercise. I have also gained a little bit of experience when it came to working with participants who have disabilities. I learned wheelchair transfers, and different ideas and exercises that they could do that would benefit their limitations. Something I wish I had known before starting my internship is how much responsibility we would have, because when I first started it didn’t seem like a lot; but really, each participant depends on you, and trusts you to have their best interest at heart, but also make exercise fun.

Speaking of responsibility, you’re also a student athlete. How easy has it been for you to balance academics, athletics, and your career development? What do you wish was different?

This year was a lot harder than others, just because the bulk of our season was during the spring semester. It’s usually during the fall semester so trying to get that hour requirement while balancing swimming, plus teaching spin classes at the gym and balancing the rest of my classes, was very hard. If it was a normal year I don’t think it would’ve been as difficult, because I have always been good at time management. As a student athlete, that is something you have to be good at, and I definitely used this skill in my internship since we’re on a schedule.

Thanks for your honesty; it’s true, this has been an exceptionally hard year, but you’ve pulled through! Alexa, as we wrap up: do you have any shoutouts to make, or advice for your peers?

My best advice that I can give to someone who is looking for internships right now: go into it with an open mind. I had my mind deadset on being a PT rehab aide, and when I started working at SLI, I learned that I am gaining a lot more than just knowledge. I am creating connections with my participants and my co-workers. I am also getting exposed to other populations that I may not have ever gotten exposed to before. My other piece of advice goes out to athletes: don’t be scared to do an internship just because of a busy schedule. As an athlete, we all know school is a lot to balance sometimes with athletics, but nothing beats gaining experience in your field of interest, while also creating new connections that will help you in the future.

Thanks for sharing your advice—especially to fellow student athletes! You’re making great moves for your own career development, and we’re so happy to see it. Thank you again for joining us, Alexa, and best of luck as you finish out your Supportive Living internship!

Are you ready to secure an internship or employment for the fall and beyond? The O’Brien Center for Career Development is here to help you! Visit Handshake today to search for open opportunities, meet with your career advisor, and more.

By Dan Roussel
Dan Roussel Communications and Copywriting Intern