This intern spotlight is on Justine Lockhart from the University of North Carolina at Ashville. Justine is a psychology major who is currently interning abroad in Melbourne, Australia.
Which company are you an intern for? Describe your typical day at work. What are you currently working on?
I am interning at Monash Special Developmental School. This is a large school for children ranging ages 3-18 years old with a wide range of intellectual disabilities, most commonly Autism Spectrum Disorder. I help out in five different classrooms, working with a variety of ages. On Mondays and Tuesdays I work with preschool-aged children, on Wednesdays and Fridays I work with teenagers, and on Thursdays, I work with seven to eight-year-olds. I supervise, play with the children, assist with schoolwork, and help the teachers make sure the daily schedule runs smoothly. Also, about once or twice a week I observe occupational therapy sessions and assist in prompting the children’s developmental and motor skill tasks.
Could you see yourself having a future career in the industry that you are currently interning within? What are you learning?
I would like to have a career as a school counselor and it has been great gaining hands-on experience working with children in a school setting. I love working with special needs children and I hope to incorporate that as part of my future career as a school counselor. I am learning how classrooms and other school staff members function. I am also learning patience, interpersonal skills, and nonverbal communication (as many of the children are non-verbal or have limited communication skills). I really think working with children is a constant learning experience in itself. It can be challenging, but very enjoyable and rewarding. I believe I have been learning a lot outside of the internship as well. I have gained independence and I have become comfortable with navigating public transportation in a new city.
What is your favorite thing to do in your free time? Have you taken any cool trips on your weekends off? Established any new friendships?
I really enjoy wandering around and exploring new areas within the city and taking pictures of the beautiful street art and architecture. Every weekend I try to discover a new part of Melbourne, explore the shops, and find some cafes. So far my favorite places in Melbourne to explore have been Hosier Lane, Federation Square, Chinatown, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and the Winter Night Victoria Market. I have not taken any trips outside of Melbourne yet, but next week I will be traveling to Brisbane. In addition to the other API interns in Australia, I have made some new friends through some existing friends I have that attend the University of Melbourne, as well as socializing with the staff at my internship.
Were the expectations you had of your host culture met? Why or why not? Was the vision of yourself in interaction with the host culture realized? Why or why not? What about your pre-conceived notions?
You never can truly know what to expect when you are going to a foreign country. Australia has been even more beautiful, diverse, and interesting than expected. In particular, the city of Melbourne has surprised me in the way that I feel very at home here rather than feeling like a tourist. I feel very comfortable here and I see something new and fascinating every day. There are many stereotypes that I thought about Australia that turned out to be false coming here and I can see the same happening when Australian people tell me stereotypes they believe about Americans. I think the culture of Australia really differs depending on city and Melbourne is a lot more diverse than I expected, filled with people of many different ethnicities and languages, which is something I really admire.