Ah…it’s summertime. After the madness that are winter and spring quarters, you’re probably looking forward to days by the pool, ascending a fourteener, or maybe just enjoying a little R & R. Or…maybe you’re gearing up for your next adventure: The Summer Internship. Summer internships are a wonderful time to gain real-world experience in your area of study. To help prepare you for this endeavor we have launched a summer series True Stories: How Grad Students Used Summer Internships to Launch Their Careers. We interviewed five DU graduate students and got the skinny on their summer internship experiences. Each post will focus on the specifics relating what they learned and advice they’d like to relay to you as you venture into your own endeavors. Our first student is Ben Lampert, who actually met his fiancé whilst doing his internship!
Intern: Ben Lampert, second year master’s student majoring in sport and performance psychology
Employer: Rivermend Health Wellspring Camps a weight loss camp for kids, teens, young adults, and women. Services include behavioral health experts, cognitive behavioral therapy, culinary and nutritional training, lifestyle management, exercise and physical activity, and continuing care.
What he did
I spent nine weeks on the campus of UCSD where I worked as a behavioral coach. I managed a caseload of 15–20 individuals and four groups of 4–6 individuals. I provided them with mental health counseling and performance-based interventions to aid in their journey to become healthier, more confident versions of themselves. The main objective for the campers was to lose weight and part of my job was to equip participants with habits that would transcend outside of the program. I also spent lots of time “putting out fires” and dealing with crises such as suicide ideation, cutting, fighting, running away, and anxiety/depression.
How his summer internship helped his career
My summer experience with Wellspring Camps was a dream come true. I had the opportunity to take what I learned during my first year as a master’s student in DU’s Sport & Performance Psychology program and immediately apply it in a real world setting. As a behavioral coach I was urged to use my evolving theory of performance excellence in conjunction with Wellspring’s clinical behavioral health model to positively influence and improve the lives of obese teenagers and young adults. One of the best parts about our program at DU is the applied nature of it. I have always been a “trial and error” kind of guy and my work at Wellspring, in conjunction with my formal learning at DU, allowed me to try different approaches and practice what I learned in a safe and supportive environment. Oh, and did I mention, I was able to play a part in what was the best summer of their lives for many of these campers?! After my internship I was able to then return to the classroom with great momentum.
Advice he’d give to DU grad students
- Apply Early: This opportunity came across our program’s listserv and I jumped on it right
away. This allowed me to be in the very first wave of interviews a few weeks into January and provided me with the flexibility to choose my location.
- Relinquish Control: Use a summer internship to step outside your comfort zone, embrace the unknowns, and further develop your own skill set while helping others at the same time.
- Take a Step Back: Looking back at my experience, I realize I was in a bubble of sorts and it would have suited me well to pop the bubble and disengage from the go-go-go mentality of summer camp every now and then.
If you take one message from all this, I think it should be to be pro-active, ask questions, and see what summer internships/jobs are out there as early as possible (I did it over winter break). Allow yourself to do something new that’s outside of your comfort zone. If you do this, you can’t go wrong and you will find a satisfying summer experience that may even change your life! It sure changed mine…I’m marrying my fiancé this August, someone I met through a connection from Wellspring!