Archive | August 2015

Interning at Hillcrest – By: Mary Zabian

In retroIMG_0126spect, I didn’t know what Hillcrest Educational Centers was on the first day of my internship last May. I thought I did, as many people do. However, as my second summer at Hillcrest comes to a close, I still cannot say in confidence that I utterly fathom all of the wonderful things the agency does. Perhaps this is because there are far too many. I think each person and family that has been served by the Hillcrest Educational Foundation has a different interpretation of what the organization actually is based on the unique difference it has made in each of their lives. The foundation tirelessly serves not only its residential and day students, but also its dental patients and community in immeasurable ways. As an intern in the Admissions and Marketing Department, I am thankful to have been exposed to many different aspects of the agency and the astounding effects of its service.

The first time I see a new Hillcrest student is usually in the form of a 300 page referral packet that I am forcing through the copy machine. Each packet tells its own story and it is usually not a happy one. In fact, the Admissions Department sees about 5-7 unhappy stories every week, making the third floor a very busy place. My supervisors, Jackie and Ted, are the King and Queen of admissions. As the Admissions Coordinator, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jackie take a break. She truly exemplifies the meaning of hard work through her continued efforts to balance the never ending wave of paperwork on her desk. Ted, as the Admissions and Marketing Director, always knows someone somewhere. He spends most days traveling all over the Northeast interviewing new students, never meeting a child that he didn’t like or didn’t want to help. I am immensely grateful for all of the time Jackie and Ted have invested in teaching me, not as an intern, but as a member of the department.

Throughout my time with the Admissions Department, I have also been fortunate enough to work with the program administration from each campus. All of the program managers have been more than accommodating in helping me “learn the ropes” of the agency. At the Administrative Office, I was surrounded by amazing people, all dedicated to assisting our programs in providing the best care and treatment possible.

I have never really felt that the word “internship” has accurately depicted my experience at Hillcrest Educational Centers. When you think of an intern, you may think of the college student that goes to fetch the coffee, makes the copies, or takes care of the pile of busy work everyone has been putting off. However, my “internship” with Hillcrest has had a much greater value. I am honored to feel like a member of the Hillcrest family. Thank you to the entire Hillcrest staff and students for affording me the opportunity to learn from such a miraculous organization.

Interning at Hillcrest – By: Jasmine Chee

IMG_9852This fall will be the start of my senior year as an undergraduate at Western New England University. I am currently majoring in psychology with a minor in education. With only one year left of undergrad I decided it was time for me to gain some experience in the vast field of psychology to help me decide which career path would suit me best. Most students have trouble deciding what to go to school for, but I have trouble deciding the opposite.

If school was free and aging was optional I would get degree after degree! I am interested in about five different fields of psychology one of those being Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which Hillcrest conveniently uses to treat their students in the Autism Spectrum Disorder Program (ASD). I originally applied for a summer job at Hillcrest and received an interview with Timothy Johnston, Hillcrest’s employment manager. During our interview, Tim suggested that I consider applying for their internship program in human resources because I would be returning to school in the fall. I was both delighted and surprised to hear about the internship and decided to apply. Once I had been accepted into the program I was asked if I would like to be a part of a split internship instead. This meant I would divide my hours between working in the human resources department and ASD. I agreed right away because it seemed too good to be true! This internship would give me a taste of two different fields of psychology in one summer.

During my time spent at ASD, I was able to shadow the clinicians, sit in on meetings with parents/clinicians, and spend time working in direct care with the students. I even was able to tag along on a joint meeting with another campus to meet a new student and his family. I was able to see the process of student enrollment from start to finish. I especially enjoyed working in direct care with the students because I really got to know them as individuals. It can be difficult as times, but the amount of good moments I had with the students far outweighed the difficulty.

During my time spent in human resources I learned a lot of valuable skills. I was able to sit in on interviews, trusted with new hire references, and another intern and I were even assigned to our own project. Together we worked on laying the ground work to develop an internship program that would take place during the academic school year for college students. We reached out to local schools, drafted program and job descriptions, and we even were able to sit in on the meetings with the program directors of Career Services at each of the colleges. The best part about being included in the meetings was that I saw my whole project through from the beginning to the end. I actually was able to meet the people that I was contacting via phone and email for weeks. Who knows, I may even be able to continue working on this project after the summer ends, which makes this experience more than I could have ever hoped for!

Interning at Hillcrest – By: Kelsey Ryan

Kelsey RyanIt is impossible to know if you are making the right career choice until you have had the opportunity to experience it. The Hillcrest Educational Centers Internship Program provided just that. Starting off my college education I was not sure if I wanted to take the psychology or business route. As a matter of a fact I still am torn between the two. Fortunately Hillcrest allowed me to split my internship working alongside business development as well as spending time at the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) campus.

My first initial thought was that I would be sending emails and making copies, but my time with the Business Development office was more than I could have expected. I was afforded the responsibility and opportunity to contribute to the growth and production of Hillcrest. On the first day, my supervisor, Mike Supranowicz, showed how thankful he was to have me on board to work alongside him on his summer research project. Throughout my time here I was carrying out an extensive project on the current state of Adult ASD Programs. I worked vigorously to create a finalized research report. I got a great deal of experience working with the ARC map computer program and learned just how much it can do. Upon finishing the research project I will be presenting it to, Jerry Burke, the president of Hillcrest Educational Centers. This gives me the feeling that my time here was important and that I made a positive contribution to the Educational Center.

Arriving at the ASD campus I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a place well suited for me. But, as soon as I hit the floor, the staff treated me with the utmost respect and helped me grow every step of the way. The director, teachers, supervisors, teaching assistants, clinicians, and nurses collaborated together as a team and made decisions based on each others concerns. Their dedication and passion was something that amazed me more each day. I was not treated as an intern who was getting in the way, but as another team member. They trusted me with the responsibility to work one-on-one with the students and to assist in anything that the campus needed. Being granted the opportunity to get a hands-on experience with Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) taught me more than any college course or textbook ever could. The students at the campus are truly who impacted me the most. Through the various interactions I had with them, I learned a tremendous amount about how to work with students with ASD. The most important outcome I gained from this experience is that success is measured by the amount of positive impact you bring to the world, not the amount of money you make.

Overall my experience with Hillcrest Educational Centers was one that I will never forget. Hillcrest Educational Centers has helped reassure me that I am headed in the right direction. The knowledge I gained is something that I will take with me while I further my education. I am more than thankful for the opportunity I was given to work with such a great organization.

Interning at Hillcrest – By: Katelyn Monteleone

Katelyn Monteleone“What do you want to do with your life?”

This is the question that always seems to be hovering in the air that surrounds any college student, or any young person for that matter.

It’s a question that continues to haunt me as I progress through my college career, still having very little certainty about what I want to do. Some kids grow up wanting to be a professional soccer player or a doctor or a marine biologist or a pilot or an ice-cream flavor scientist, but even as a kid, I never really had an answer to the “what do you want to do?” question. I’ve always floated in the category of just hoping I’ll figure it out eventually, that I’ll one day stumble across something that I love and know that it is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Of course, I know it’s not as simple as just “stumbling” across something – to find what you enjoy doing, you have to be willing to give things a try. Accordingly, when I heard about the summer internship program at Hillcrest, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to explore some of the careers that may interest me in the future when I inevitably step out into the real world.

On my first day of work, any anxiety I had about the experience quickly dissipated as I was introduced to the dozens of kind and friendly Hillcrest employees. After taking a brief tour of the Administrative Offices, I headed next door to Hillcrest Dental Care, where I would be an HR intern for the summer.

Before this summer, I did not know much about Human Resources, and I definitely did not know much about the Dental world, but I was excited to learn. I met my supervisor, Kristen Elcox, the HR manager for Hillcrest Dental Care, and I immediately knew that I would be able to learn so much from working with her. Kristen is sort of like the queen of Human Resources – she has an incredible amount of experience in HR, has worked in many different HR settings, and she handles what can be an extremely stressful and demanding job with grace and ease. I feel so lucky to have gotten to work with her.

Over the course of the summer, I got to observe what happens behind the scenes in the dental office and I spent time researching, learning how insurance credentialing works, writing office policies and procedures, creating various spreadsheets and employee evaluations, and completing other office tasks. The internship helped me to gain confidence in my skills along with giving me an understanding of what it is like to work in an office setting.

As my internship comes to an end and I get ready to return to school, I still don’t know exactly what I want to do with my life after college, but I feel so fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to explore a new field that I probably would not have considered before. I’d especially like to thank Kristen, Tricia, Trina, Mike, and Eileen for all of their guidance throughout the summer, and extend my best wishes to the rest of the HDC team and HEC staff.

Hillcrest represents a truly incredible group of people, and I now feel an even greater appreciation for the organization and all for which it stands. I could not imagine a more valuable and engaging experience than interning at Hillcrest this summer.

Interning at Hillcrest – By: Nicole Belair

Nicole BelairBy: Nicole Belair – Hillcrest Summer Intern

June 1st was a rainy Monday, and I had never been so nervous in my entire life. I almost talked myself out of the whole thing as I pulled my car into one of the few open parking spaces behind Hillcrest’s Administrative Offices. It’s not too late to turn around, I thought. But it was.

I finally parked and fixed my black and white polka-dot dress in the distorted reflection on my driver side door. I had spent the past week inside hundreds of stores, purchasing an entirely new wardrobe for my summer internship. Nothing about my preference for Levi’s and flannels screamed “professional” and I could no longer camouflage myself as the misunderstood writer from Vermont. It was time to start my career.

My anxieties were eased almost immediately as our New Staff Orientation began. During my two days of training, I was able to learn about all of the incredible work that Hillcrest Educational Foundation does for students from across the country and the complex methods of treatment that are utilized. I was touched by the success stories and interactions with the students. Upon my first meeting with my supervisors-to-be, Sheila Mason and Katrina Cardillo, I knew that interning at Hillcrest for the summer would be nothing short of positive. I was grateful that I didn’t turn my car around on that first day.

Whenever I told a friend or a family member that I would be interning this summer, each one would make a joke about having to bring people coffee and do the work that no one else wanted to do. Never did I think that by my second day on the job, I would be writing the first drafts of press releases, writing letters to donors and scholarship winners and researching different digital marketing strategies for our department to employ. I became very passionate about the Foundation and my desire for it to succeed increased every day, as opposed to my monotonous experience in retail for many years. I was able to attend picnics, student recognition events, an All-Staff Meeting and spontaneous lunch dates with the rest of the interns. I felt like I was a part of something great: a friendly community geared toward helping students in need.

Katrina and Sheila made me feel incredibly welcome. They trusted me with challenging projects, gave me many opportunities to learn the basics of their jobs at Hillcrest and allowed me to determine if this was a career path I would be interested in heading down. They really treated me as an equal, not just an inexperienced intern who might have been in the way.

After only two weeks of interning, I knew that I wanted to expand my college major. I had been studying Professional Writing for the past year, but I have realized that I want more experience in communications, public relations and business administration. Without this internship, I might not have realized that until it was too late. I am beyond grateful to have been given this opportunity, especially at such a young age and at such a wonderful place. This originally intimidating experience has been a smooth, informative and enjoyable transition toward my career, and I am very thankful to everyone from Hillcrest and the Administrative Offices for making that possible.