Helping Others after Graduation: Success in Internships Leads to Early Career

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Arielle Rolfe ’16 says her internships while studying at Thomas College were the most important aspect of her education – from providing opportunities after graduating to giving her a taste for the field and providing her with necessary skills.

“I’ve learned a lot from my internships. I feel really prepared,” said Rolfe back in December 2016 when she was getting ready to graduate a semester early.

While at Thomas College, the psychology major interned at Oakland’s elementary school, William and Atwood Elementary Schools, with its guidance counselor. She met individually with many students – talking and doing activities with them. Her second internship was at Benton Elementary School with two guidance counselors where she worked with groups of students to develop social skills.

Rolfe said she has always wanted to have a career in counseling, but it wasn’t until she came to Thomas that she found her love of working with children.

“My professor Cindy Lepley is the reason why I chose children to work with instead of adolescents. She has helped me with so many things during my time at Thomas,” she said. “And she has really been the biggest inspiration I have had.”

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In December, Rolfe had just finished her classes and already had a job lined up after exams. The job was with Community Health and Counseling Services in Skowhegan working as a family specialist meeting with foster kids and their foster families.

A couple of months later, Rolfe has already found a new opportunity but still working with children. She works at the Department of Health and Human Services as a permanency Caseworker. Her job is to help families develop goals toward providing safer lives for their children. If the goals are not met and safety is still an issue, the department works to terminate parental rights, if needed. In this case, Rolfe would place children into foster homes and continue to provide guidance and security for them through adoption. Rolfe said the goal is to keep families intact while keeping children safe, believing that the best place for a child is with their parents.

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Rolfe is from North Anson, Maine, which has a population of 2,500. Her family owns a logging company. She chose Thomas because she was comfortable with a small community close to home.

“The price was right, and it’s been a really great experience. Definitely, the experience with professors has paid off more than anything else,” she said.

Rolfe said she would recommend other students to complete internships while at Thomas like she did.

“You learn so much more than what you would in the classroom. I used a lot of the education that I had from the classroom but it reinforces it when you actually do it,” she said. “It’s a whole different world when you are actually out there doing it rather than just reading and taking tests and writing papers.”

She said studying psychology at Thomas is a good starting point because it is very general and students can go many directions with it.

Rolfe will march with the rest of her peers in May. She is very happy with her new job.

“I have felt extremely prepared for my career thanks to my education at Thomas,” she said. “I found myself knowing many things brought up in training that others were unaware of.”

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