A Postcard From: Alex Berndt ’19

Name: Alex Berndt
Class Year: 2019
Major: Sociology
Hometown: Houston, Texas

Internship Placement: The Franklin Institute
Job Title: Classroom Support Intern
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

I’m convinced I have the best internship any college student could have for the summer. I work with the Mini Molecules (Pre-K to second grade) They’re at the best age and are all so curious and have such passion toward the science that they learn.

As a classroom support intern at the Franklin Institute, I get to spend a lot of one on one time with campers at their discovery camp. I work with campers who have learning differences such as autism or ADHD among a few learning differences, and some weeks I just stick around and offer campers support when they are feeling homesick. It may not seem like much, but every week I get to watch these children grow and learn and feel excited about science.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because I plan on becoming a licensed clinical social worker when I am older, specifically focusing on children’s therapy. There are not a lot of internships that are available for undergraduate students in clinical settings, so in my search for internships I felt as if this was the best fit. It has given me the opportunity to confirm that I am indeed interested in working with children, and I am very glad for that.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced at your internship?

Believe it or not my job is really hard; it has been a struggle adjusting to constantly talking to peers and adults to always talking with small children. My job description as a classroom support intern is to provide one on one care and support to campers who may need extra help in the classroom — this can be hard, there are times when campers are just not having a good day and that can be especially hard if they also happen to have autism, a sensory processing disorder, or other learning difference.

A lot of what I do is making sure they are comfortable in the environment and that we are able to change the environment if it becomes too stressful and overwhelming. It is hard to anticipate what exactly could be a trigger for some campers, and what is for others. It is not always the same and I am not a fortune teller. Though this may be a hard job it has also helped me learn a lot about myself. I am autistic and have sensory processing disorder and have had a really hard time dealing with everyday struggles and coping as an adult. If anything, working with these kids at the Franklin Institute has helped me become more patient with myself.

What is most rewarding about your internship?

The most rewarding thing about my internship is watching the campers grow; it is truly incredible to see them struggle and then overcome their problems. They are so young and learning and growing with them has been incredible. There is one camper who I worked with in the past who didn’t want to participate in an activity about bird nests Instead, we spent the time together learning about bat nests, to only find out that they were actually called “roosts.” He spent the remainder of the day telling everyone that bat nests were actually called roosts and having an overall good day. I enjoy teaching these campers at the Franklin Institute and watching them be so excited about learning; it continually makes my day. I would highly recommend this internship to anyone, especially if they enjoy working with children.