The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Reality Bites

Posted by Seeking Solace |

One of the requirements for students to earn their undergraduate degree in my program is to complete an internship during their last term in school. Their courses do allow for real time application of their skills, but interning allows the student to have some "experience" and apply the skills that they learned in the classroom. 

Students are not just "placed" with a particular site. They are vetted, meaning, I ensure that there is a good fit between the student and the site. I try to match a student's interest and skill set with those sites that are available. Also, being accepted by a site is not a given. the student must interview with the site and have the site "accept" them as an intern.

But what do you do when a student's skills, academic and professional, are lacking? And, when you have discussed these deficiencies with the student, they still don't get it? I have two students that I need to place in an internship next quarter. I have absolutely no idea where or with whom I will place them.

Student A has this habit of revealing personal information at inappropriate times. For example, when asked "How are you today?", this student has not problem telling people that she is doing well today because her bipolar medication is working.

She is not kidding, either.

We have discussed, at great length, how such comments are not appropriate in a professional setting. People may not be as understand about mental illness as we would like. She just doesn't get it.

Student B  is very weak academically. She has ridden the "C" train through the program. (Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with a "C", I've earn a few "hard C's" in my lifetime,. But I understood the material and could articulate it).  This student has issues with basic concepts (Which also begs the question of how is it that she made it this far...topic for another discussion). The student stated before I came on the scene. She just does not have the academic skills to do what is required. I, along with others, have tried to work with her, but information just does not stick. She started well before I came along to run the program. If I had been on the scene earlier, I would have advised this student to choose a different program, that is closely related to her current one.

I will be meeting with these students next week to begin the process of finding a site for next term. I hope that I can impress upon them how critical this step is in their process. Truth be told, I am afraid of the worse case scenario. What if I lose a good site because a student does not have the skills to be successful?

Sounds a little shallow, doesn't it? I even feel funny typing it.

And that's rare coming from someone who has not trouble saying what's on her mind.

But the reality is, I have to also think about what is best for those who are coming up on doing their internship. I can't have one person mess it up for the others. And, I have to think about the reputation of the program and the college. The legal profession is a small, insulated community. One bad experience could make things very difficult for future students.

Sometimes, reality bites.


David Whitehead said...

Unfortunately, we cannot control how others will perform, nor how 'sites' will respond to poor performance.
However, you stated that the sites still interview these students. So, it is not as if they are uninvolved in the decision to grant these students a position. I think, perhaps, you should find some consolation in the fact that it cannot solely fall on you if a student does perform poorly.
Yes, these sites are a valuable resource to your future students and your school; and so, you are right to be concerned; but, you and your students are as much a resource to the sites as well - don't forget that.

Anonymous said...

Student #1 some type of non profit work involving people with mental challenges. Or children. Guardian ad litem maybe. It might be right up their alley. #2 something rigorous and challenging, so that they learn to either step it up or get out. Hope this helps and Happy Thxgiving.