Last year, I had my dream job. You could not have written a job description for a social work intern that was more geared toward my career goals and interests than the job description I had. In my field application, I wrote that my long-term goal was to work in a school setting, but particularly with adolescents with disciplinary problems. I also wrote that I had a strong interest in violence prevention. So they put me here, as a school social worker at Passages Academy - the school that serves the kids in the Horizon Juvenile Center. I had been really nervous about whether or not choosing NYU was the wisest decision - because ya'll, it's expensive. Like, really expensive. I had just taken a class at church on how God wants us to steward money, and I felt like I was ignoring that... but somethign in me just kept telling me, after all of my prayer, that this was the right decision. Getting that placment sealed the deal. The things I learned there are another post for another day - but suffice it to say, I'm more passionate about improving the juvenile justice system than ever.
So when Spring rolled around and it was time to start talking year two placements, I was like "Seriously, I already had my dream job, put me anywhere." My faculty advisor couldn't believe this. You see, most people's first-year placement is kindof a flop. They don't usually cater your first year to your goals, and I listened to story after story of colleagues of mine who had bad supervision, didn't learn anything, were working with a population that did not line up with their goals or gifts, etc. So for me to say "I had my dream job, my supervisor was amazing, and I loved every second of it," was completely unheard of. Your second year they let you cater your goals a little bit more to what you want to do, and people are generally very pleased. I had no goals to cater to, I'd already done it. I wanted a new experience just to broaden my horizons.
We decided to request hospitals. Many of the jobs out there are in healthcare, and I have ZERO experience in healthcare, but a TON of experience in education. Seeing as how education jobs are hard to get but healthcare jobs are a-plenty if you've got the experience, I thought it'd be worthwhile, for practical purposes.
At first, my supervisor insisted I work with adults, because, if you don't know I DONT LIKE WORKING WITH GROWN-UPS. For real. It's terrifying. Not to mention my patience runs really then when I have to repeat myself and explain basic things to a grown person. I don't mind doing it for kids, but you're an adult, grow up. THEN, we decided that, since my long-term goals involve schools, I need to be better at working with parents (seriously, I really really used to hate the parent-invovlement aspect of teaching becuase I was terrified of parents...) So we requested pediatrics. Kids are not in the hosptial alone, so much of the work in pediatrics is with FAMILIES.
LITTLE DID I KNOW that pediatric internships are incredibly rare. Most hospitals are afraid that it's too much for an intern. It's intense, so they simply won't assign you there. They feel like it's not for the inexperienced. So, I prepared myself that there was a good chance I'd end up in a normal grown-up hosptial setting.
Then, I started to have friends going through some pretty serious losses. Two good friends lost babies in their second trimester. One friend had an early miscarriage. I also had a bazillion friends who were pregnant (like, for real, everyone got pregnanat at the same time). I prayed about how God could use this in some way. When you're twenty-seven, and want babies, and everyone around you is having babies, and you're still waiting for your first boyfriend, like a twelve year old, it can be pretty hard. So, I prayed about it. Then it came to me: WHAT IF THERE ARE JOBS IN OB/GYN OR NEWBORN SOCIAL WORK?! I immediately started researching. Is this a thing? If so, do they take interns?
The first two hospitals that came to mind were New York Presbyterian, and Mt. Sinai. So I started browsing their websites and found out that, yes, it is a thing, and as a matter of fact, there are even social workers in the NICU! What?!
So I emailed my faculty advisor. I'd been awaiting a placement for about a month at this point, and was getting anxious, even though I knew it could still be two or three months before I got one. In my email, I asked her to add an additional request, if that was even possible, for a job working with pregnant or new mothers. She told me she didn't know if it was available, but she'd forward my request to NYU.
And then, within twenty four hours, I received a call.
"Hi, Danielle, this is [important professor of field placement at NYU], I'm looking over your resume and requests and I wondered if you'd be interested in me sending your resume to New York Presbyterian? particularly in the neonatal intensive care."
My response: "YES YES YES YES YES!"
[Important professor]: "You know, this isn't a placement we just give away, it's tough, so I want to make sure you're okay with that. Typically people aren't as excited about it as you were because it's a hard field, so I was a little surprised at how enthusiastic you were."
Me: "I take it you got my email from [insert facutly advisor]"
[Important professor]: "No, I haven't received any emails from her today."
WHAT?!?!?! Ya'll God is amazing. Again, reinforcing just how awesome he is at directing us to where he needs us to be. Long story short, I interviewed, I was taken on a test-run through the unit to see just how I handled seeing all of those adorable little tiny babies in their little isolettes with little tubes, and I passed. I got the job. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE it.
I met with important professor in person last week for the first time, and she had me recount to her just how this placement had come to be because she said "I place a lot of students, and I know that I won't just place anyone there. We're very selective with who we place in pediatric units."
I am complely floored by how God has moved through my graduate school experience, and placed me in all the right places, and used tough experiences to shape me and change my vision.
I will follow this up with an update on just WHY I love my job and what my days look like, but this post is really long, so I'm cutting it off here.