Dalia Rubenstein is the 2018 JOIN Intern for Kadima. Dalia is going to be a junior at Michigan State University and is studying Psychology.
Written by: Dalia Rubenstein
Kadima means forward and that’s exactly what this internship did; it helped me to move forward. Lessons I’ve learned here will stick with me when I’m moving on to a career after college. I knew I wanted to have an internship this summer and being that I’m passionate about mental health advocacy, I thought Kadima would be a good fit for me. I was right.
During my first week here, my supervisor said something that still resonates with me. She said that this field has a lot to do with word choice and that how you say things to clients and coworkers matters. She explained the difference between saying “I am bipolar” and “I have bipolar disorder”. Mental health labels can save lives, but they can also negatively affect them. Mental illnesses are a part of you and who you are, but they don’t define you. There is so much more to a person than their diagnosis. That conversation changed my interpretation and made it clear that I should be mindful because diction is key.
Kadima provided me with my first professional experiences working with those with severe and persistent mental illnesses. From shadowing therapy sessions, I learned that diagnoses look different on everyone. Different social workers may give the same person different diagnoses and it’s not as straightforward as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders may lead people to believe.
The first week here I also had the opportunity of connecting with the executive director. He told me that I was, of course, going to do intern tasks, but that he really wanted me to get something out of this, so that “intern tasks” should not be all I am doing. He stood by that statement and I learned a lot from attending meetings with him. He explained how non-profits work, how Kadima operates, the difference between certain insurances and core providers and that no matter what, clients should always come first. These meetings also taught me a lot about myself. I learned that I’d love to be the type of person who gets to run one of them one day. I’d love to have a position in a company where not only can I use my voice, but it can be heard.
Following this theme, I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed certain tedious quality and compliance tasks such as alphabetizing papers, organizing files, using Excel and preparing information for clients. I never thought I would’ve been interested in that, but I found it relaxing. I’m used to working in jobs where I am the assistant, so planning and facilitating groups was a bit out of my comfort range, but again, I really enjoyed it. Throwing myself into this internship and saying yes to every opportunity the staff offered me majorly worked to my benefit. I originally came to Kadima knowing I wanted to work with the clinical staff and as much as I loved that, I’m really thankful to all of the other staff that enriched my knowledge about this community and the workforce in general. Going to a concert with clients, volunteering at Forgotten Harvest, shadowing staff at home appointments, attending other groups, and assisting with Kadima’s golf fundraiser have all been opportunities that contributed to my learning. I am vastly grateful to everyone at Kadima for every experience and lesson I have learned.