Final Days and Goodbyes
October 21, 2018
This final week was not much different from the others in the day-to-day happenings, but it felt so much different to me personally as I knew I was leaving. It was like looking at the Center with new eyes, but still knowing everything I have learned. It was surreal, in a way, to go about my job as usual, all the while knowing there was an expiration date on my experience. All the staff knew, some of the residents knew, and yet despite their words of farewell, nothing had changed. That more than anything taught me that change, especially leaving a job, are not always momentous occasions, even if they feel that way. I have grown to love this job, and to really value the connections and relationships I have formed here with the staff and with the residents. But just because I’m sad about leaving doesn’t make the experience any less meaningful. I’ve learned so much, and I’ve grown so much, both as an academic and as a person, and that is incredibly important to remember, no matter how bittersweet it was to walk out the front door knowing it was the last time. I’ve learned a lot about the job and about the world of adolescent criminal justice, as can be seen from my previous posts. What I learned in this last week was mostly about myself this time.
In my final review with my supervisor Tom, I did a lot of reflecting on what I had learned and how I had handled to job. This conversation made me realize how far I have come as a person. In 8 short weeks, I learned I am capable of de-escalating explosive situations, of building strong and important relationships with adolescents, and that I am strong and capable of keeping a level head in tough situations. These are skills I never considered myself capable of before, and how could I have? This internship has by far been the most stressful and challenging situation I have ever been in. Working with troubled youth is one of the hardest jobs out there, one I wasn’t sure I was capable of. I went in to the experience fully expecting to just go through the motions, and not feel particularly strongly about anything except my research. I walked in believing I would only want to pursue research as a career, and I walked out realizing I have not only the skills, not only the potential, but also the desire to do field work with criminal youth. My supervisory Terry re-iterated for me that I am one of the few strong females who have what it takes to do this work, but on top of that I am one of the few who enjoy it, and that’s what made me so good at my job. That enjoyment of the work I did was what impressed her, and it honestly impressed me too.
At the end of it all, I don’t know how to properly thank everyone who helped me achieve all that I have learned and accomplished in my 8 weeks at the Center. It was an incredible experience, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have had this opportunity. I am so excited to see where these new skills and knowledge will take me, and I know it will all be thanks to the Linn County Juvenile Detention Center.