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Unpaid (and required) College Internships

Unpaid (and required) College Internships

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On a recent trip to Baltimore for my high school reunion, I met a young woman named Molly Rea. Molly was bartending at the hotel where I stayed. When I asked her if she was from Baltimore, I received an answer that I didn’t expect. As it turns out, Molly is completing a six- month unpaid internship for her Music Therapy major at Purdue University Fort Wayne. To make ends meet including continuing to pay her share of the rent for her apartment in Texas, she took a bartending job while completing the internship. Bartending helps pay the bills, but financially, it’s still a struggle.

It does not surprise me that many college students work while attending college. I am also aware of three-month practicums, particularly in nursing and teaching, that do not pay the student going through the practicum. I was surprised that Music Therapy would require a six-month practicum. I asked Molly if she could send me some information that I could use to write this blog article. She sent me the following post from her Facebook account.

My amazing tribe of loved ones,

*sigh* The time has come for me to swallow my pride and humbly ask for help during my [unpaid] internship. The financial strain is weighing on me more than I expected and while both of my parents and boyfriend have all done their part in assisting me along the way as much as possible, I am putting this information out there in case anyone is willing and able to help keep my boat above water.

I am managing paying rent in both Maryland on the room I am leasing, and half of our home’s rent in Texas to help Anthony, on top of my car payment, insurance, renter’s insurance (x2), cell service, and food and gas during my journey out here. I worked my TAIL off leading up to this experience, but with the initial delay and life piling on one thing after another, the amount I thought I needed to save up is proving to be not enough. I felt it was worth it to throw it out to the universe and give it up to God.

I began this undergraduate program fairly certain that I wanted to serve folks in psychiatric care… and after these first eight weeks at Springfield Hospital Center, this dream is finally being realized. Over 90% of our census are forensic patients suffering from severe schizophrenia / schizoaffective disorder / personality disorder / mood disorder / substance use disorder / and delusional disorder. I am finally able to put everything I’ve studied over these last six years into action and bring a caring heart and relentless passion through music to help these individuals reach a fuller state of health. My dream internship is becoming a dream come true and the path being laid in front of me is one I am so fortunate to be walking down. I love this work and I love feeling like I am making a difference in people’s lives, whether it’s having a dance party to “call me maybe” by Carly Rae Jepson at least five times a week because it is one of my patient’s favorites… or monthly birthday parties where we all do the cupid shuffle… or whether it’s validating a patient response during a song discussion while we touch on topics related to their treatment… or whether it’s simply having the chance to tell someone who feels isolated and depressed that “I see you. I hear you. I GET you.” and trusting that they know that I mean every word. It really is the perfect career for me, and I am learning so much during my time here.

In the midst of the financial burden, I have taken it upon myself to get a part time job bartending at a hotel restaurant near my apartment, hoping to work three nights a week. combined with my hospital hours, I’ll be pulling 65+ hour weeks and beginning to go down the road of burning the candle at both ends. If anyone so kindly decides to make a freewill donation to my cause, please know that every penny will be spent on rent, gas, and food.

I am a very self-sufficient woman, working multiple part time jobs the entire way through my associates and undergraduate degrees. It is not an easy thing for me to bow my head and recognize that if there ever was a time to ask for financial help from my support system, it is now. I wanted so badly to be able to do this on my own and it feels in many ways I’ve let myself and my loved ones down because this decision was mine, and I knew it was going to be a costly one choosing to take an internship placement out of state. But in my heart of hearts, I do know that this was the best decision I’ve ever made and the wealth of knowledge and level of care I will be encompassing in Maryland will serve me the many years I have yet to face in the field of music therapy. I have opted to include my Venmo and cashapp usernames in this post for reference if you are able to help in any way. I am trusting in the way and putting my pride aside, and for dozens of reasons… I am eternally grateful. Thank you everyone.

With Love,
Molly

Obviously, it was tough for Molly to publish a request for additional funds on her Facebook page. When I wrote her and asked for additional information about her education, she provided me with the following information.

During her junior and senior years at Purdue, Molly was awarded the Sally Brockmeyer Music Therapy Scholarship as well as a Choral Scholar position. During her senior year, she was noted as one of Purdue University Fort Wayne’s Top 50 students (out of 8,000). She also published an article about her music therapy work with women recovering from addiction in the Purdue Journal of Service-Learning and International Engagement. The article provides a lot of interesting information about her work with the women at a particular recovery center in Indiana.

Once she completes this 1,200 hour supervised practicum at Springhill State Hospital, Molly will be able to sit for the certification exam which is absolutely necessary for someone who wants to maintain a professional standing in the field.

I don’t know how many college students are in a situation like Molly. While her situation may not be unique, her passion for her future profession stood out. I appended her Venmo information to the end of this article. If you feel inspired to send her some money, I know that it will be applied to rent and other related expenses while she is completing her practicum. Thanks in advance, and I’m sure Molly will thank you as well.

Molly Rea Venmo

Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston continues to serve as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) and as a member and chair of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.

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