Chelsea Gilchrist says her favorite part of her internship was being able to wake up every day and do what she loves. (Photo of graduate students left to right: Gilchrist, Dotts, Tsang, Atala)
Chelsea Gilchrist says her favorite part of her internship was being able to wake up every day and do what she loves. (Photo of graduate students left to right: Gilchrist, Dotts, Tsang, Atala)

Gerontology master's students reflect on their graduate practicum experience

Each summer, first-year gerontology master’s students are sent out into the field for a practicum. And each fall, they return with experiences that shape their studies and careers. As the current first-year master's students secure spots at local, state, national, and international levels, we talked to a handful of last year’s interns about what they learned on the job.

Chelsea Gilchrist

Worked with: Generations United – Follow them @GensUnited

I helped plan and facilitate Generations United’s 17th International Conference. The goal was to identify ways we can ensure that our communities are great places to grow up and grow old. I also created an online, intergenerational program directory, an interactive map with over 500 sites across the nation.

My favorite part was being able to wake up every day and do what I love. My experience helped me realize that the intergenerational field is so much bigger than I thought—and there’s so much room for growth.
Emily Dotts

Worked with: Ohio Department of Aging – Follow them @OhioDeptOfAging

I was the intern in the Division of Community Living. I primarily worked with evidence-based programming such as Healthy U and A Matter of Balance. I also got to help out on Senior Day at the Ohio State Fair, encouraging older adults to embrace their age and advocate for health and wellness for others, as well.

I loved the fact that I was never treated like an intern. Even on my first day, there was an expectation for me to contribute to their projects. I wasn't just following people around. I was attending meetings, and partaking in conference calls and educational seminars.

Hsin-Chih (Liz) Tsang

Worked with: National Center for Creative Aging – Follow them @CreativityAging

I really enjoyed a project on transitioning older volunteers—so much so that it’s now the subject of my thesis. The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts approached the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) because they wanted to know how to transition older volunteers with respect and appreciation. My job was to analyze the results from an online survey, and also conduct a literature review.

Through my experience at NCCA, I discovered that artists are very optimistic towards older adults. They think every older person has a story to tell. They believe all older adults can move beautifully, even if they are in wheelchairs.

Sarah Atala

Worked with: Acclaim Hospice and Palliative Care – Follow them @dearkaty

Visiting the patients was my favorite part. You can immediately see the impacts you have on their comfort, and that can be a very rewarding experience day-in and day-out.

In the bereavement group I observed, I got to witness firsthand what healthy grief and unhealthy grief looks like, and all the different ways to approach grief. I believe I’d like to work in hospice as a social worker or a bereavement counselor some day.