Youth Mentorship and Resiliency Building

Daniel Fuentes
Emphasis Area
Public Health

Daniel Fuentes supported youth navigating school and life challenges at Future for KIDS.

How did you get your internship?

I found my internship through a posting on Handshake (the University's free online internship and job database). I tailored my resume and cover letter as best as I could by highlighting projects and work experience that involved working with a community. Though I had no prior experience working with nonprofits, I went into my interview with confidence and presented everything I had to offer. My interview happened to be with one of the program leaders at Future For KIDS and I really connected with them during the interview, so after a few background checks and a little more in-person screenings I was picked for the internship role of youth mentor.

Why did you choose this internship?

After applying for many other roles like community health worker, medical scribe, and other public health related roles I decided to take a chance and look at unpaid internships. That's when I discovered non-profits and the valuable community work they do. Future For KIDS stood out to me because of their values in providing social learning environments to marginalized youth. I ultimately decided that if I wanted to experience working with marginalized communities, I should start with an unpaid internship.

What new skills did you learn or develop in this internship?

During my time at Future For KIDS I learned especially how to work with children, which was a completely new experience. Through working with children, I learned skills like building relationships as a coach/mentor and behavioral problem solving through empathy. When I wasn’t working with kids, I found myself reaching out to prospective events for Future For KIDS to do a little community outreach. I also gained organizational skills as I worked closely with my program leader to come up with new ideas for program engagement with the community. What was your favorite part of your internship? Everyday that I went to the program site I was greeted with smiles and excitement by the children I mentored because they trusted me and looked forward to the program. This alone was satisfying for me because it was one of the first times I felt I made an impact on my community.

A particular moment I felt really proud of my work was when program leaders from Phoenix came down to the Tucson site to review how our program was performing. Those leaders reported that our program was approved for further expansion in Tucson for the next coming school years. This made me enthusiastic about being a part of a prospective team in Tucson.

What did you find challenging about your internship?

The most challenging part about my internship was learning to interact with children because they have such a diversity of different personalities and attitudes with them. I discovered that children are very expressive and creative in how they interact with others so I learned to appreciate their personalities and apply them to team building activities which they really excelled in. Another challenge in working with children was that their expressive language also encompasses whenever they feel sad, upset, or angry so learning how to recognize these behaviors and how to respond to them with empathy based approaches required a lot of patience and energy. Fortunately, I had a great program trainer who had a background in childhood education that provided me with guidance and led by example.

What is the impact of your internship experience?

The children were impacted by mentorship as they learned to work collaboratively and act with kindness. My internship experience also impacted Future For KIDS by creating growth for new sites to be implemented in Tucson and expand out of Phoenix.

In addition, my internship experience rejuvenated my passion for working with communities. I am now looking into opportunities to work with marginalized populations who are in need of equitable health services.

What advice do you have for other students as they search for and begin their internship?

My immediate advice to other students is to be resilient in their search and to not be discouraged if they aren’t chosen for their dream internship. Not landing an internship that you initially wanted only means that there are more opportunities to explore that can really develop your career interests.

Advice I have for students that are beginning their internships is to act like everyday is your first day and to always go above and beyond expectations. Presenting yourself like this shows that you are a prospective student who leaders may want to hire full time.