Student Fieldwork Experiences

Our students do incredible work both in the classroom and the field.

Adrie Fells
Adrie Fells

"Interning with the City of Pittsburgh Housing Authority (HACP) was a complete departure from what I expected. In the most overall sense, "Housing Authority" is a complete misnomer. HACP provides an array of wrap-around social services to its public housing residents ranging from the most expected, like partnerships with 412 Food Rescue and Lyft to address food insecurity, to the least acknowledged, like free driving classes for residents that cannot find work within the transit area covered by Port Authority. Programs like the No Strings Shop and the Beverly Jewel Lovelace Childcare Center give residents the autonomy and ability to gain self-sufficiency on their own timeline, without the looming spectre of housing instability.

The three months that I spent with HACP gave me the opportunity to work "on-the-ground" in the Bedford Dwellings family housing community, one of the oldest housing communities in the country. I was able to meet and form relationships with residents, including the Tenant Council President of Bedford and several other HACP communities. With their assistance, I was able to plan a job skills training workshop in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Career Services, CareerLinks of Western PA, Dress for Success Pittsburgh, the Center for Victims, and Sephora Shadyside. I was also able to plan a job fair with more than 30 employers and training programs with the ultimate goal of giving HACP residents access to careers outside of the "normal" offerings like retail, hospitality, and food service positions."

Adam Dehm on campus

Adam Dehm

"I found the opportunity to intern with the Office of Children, Youth, and Families through their page on Allegheny County's website. After coordinating my internship with the Sociology department, I found myself working out of the East Regional Office in Penn Hills. CYF was very accommodating when it came to my schedule. They know that they're working with college students and that education comes first.

With that in mind, all of my coworkers were extremely supportive and insightful. I learned a lot about casework and human service agencies just by being in the room with them as they coordinated services for their clients.

During my time at CYF I shadowed caseworkers as they removed children from unsafe homes and helped to keep everyone safe and calm in those extremely difficult situations. On one occasion, I supervised a visitation between a mother and her child. At other times, I handled records and client histories and created summaries to help determine what the next step in a family's plan might be. Regardless of what I was doing, I found that I felt fulfilled and confident in the knowledge that I was helping a team of professionals to create positive outcomes for some of the most vulnerable families in our community.

I strongly advise anyone with an interest in public service, social work, or a humanitarian calling to consider interning with the Office of Children, Youth, and Families. You will experience everything from paperwork, to field work, to court room procedures, and so much more. Some of the situations you encounter will be very upsetting, and I cannot overstate how important self-care is in an internship like this, but you'll be hard pressed to find an internship that presents more opportunity for personal and professional growth."