Solving Problems / Improving Leadership

Over the past 3 months interning at Mental Health Association of Monmouth County (MHAMC), my knowledge regarding family / child social work has become much more extensive. It saddens me to think of how enriching an in-person experience with MHAMC would have been, however, my supervisor, Jessica has been doing all she can to keep me as involved as possible. She has provided me with various trainings, articles, and conversations which have furthered my understanding of the facets of social work, such as the distribution of resources, in-person check-ins, educational prevention programs, etc. Every week, our team has a phone call or a Zoom meeting in which the professionals discuss their case loads for the week, brainstorm ideas for events / resource distribution, touch upon the country’s current social and political state, etc. Jessica sends out multiple emails a week to all of us with remote opportunities to enhance our skill set and knowledge within certain subject matters (ie: mental health implications of COVID-19, systemic racism, etc.). Jessica is very relationship-oriented and shows genuine interest in the well-being, happiness, and lives of her team members. She is always understanding regarding our personal lives and matters, allowing time off and working with the team to reassign work, if need be. This is reflective of the role which Jessica plays in this country as a ‘helping’ professional as well as her involvement within the realm of mental health. She treats her team with the same empathy and attention as she would the people she works to help. This not only fosters a comfortable work environment, but also contributes to her credibility as a mental health / social work professional.

Something that I would have liked to be improved upon is Jessica’s task-oriented leadership style toward me. I can imagine that if this internship was in-person, Jessica would have been able to give me specific tasks and duties while in the MHAMC center. This would have contributed to a successful organization style for myself. Instead, I have experienced this internship remotely. With that being said, it would be nearly impossible to complete the tasks I would have in person, such as paperwork, making and receiving phone calls, attending events promoting mental health and our communities, and so on. I feel that through completing these tangible tasks and just being in the presence of these professionals at work, I would have gotten a better sense for what the profession really entails behind the scenes. I believe that with an organized and structured set of tasks / responsibilities, I would have become immersed in my internship much more easily and successfully. Instead, I complete trainings and view educational resources, which has of course benefitted me, but not in a way which has tested my capabilities or truly challenged me. Through no fault of her own, Jessica was not able to utilize my role as she or I had intended, and though I wish there were a way in which Jessica could be more of a task-oriented leader for me, she has been trying her best to keep me involved despite all of the opportunities that were lost to me with a remote – rather than in-person – experience.