Putting on My Anthropology Hat in the Home Health Care Industry

Sunny Sewak

When I think back to when I began at KSU as a Anthropology major, I really did not know what to expect or how the internship process worked.  I knew what the word “intern” meant but at this point in my life I just couldn’t see myself doing it.  I knew I was going to probably end up doing it at the end of my senior year so I really did not worry or put too much thought into the whole thing.  I knew I had plenty of time before I had to worry about it.

            Eventually my internship caught up with me and before I knew it I was registering for summer semester internship 2020 which was also my very last course I needed to complete to graduate from KSU with my bachelors degree.  I felt very nervous about what was to come of this internship experience and felt that I was not prepared at all.  I realized later on that my personal anxiety about my internship was lack of knowledge of even knowing how the whole process worked or how much work was involved.  Its natural to be scared of the unknown but for me personally there were other concerns that may not plague the regular college age student.

            My worry was not just what I was going to do for my internship but how will this mix in with my personal home life and my real job.  I’m not your traditional college age.  I am in my early 40’s with a family and a job.  Supporting my family is the number one responsibility in my life and is the main reason why I am completing my bachelors degree right now.  I knew that there were some internships that may pay  some small amount but most of them do not pay anything so the thought of having to work somewhere for my internship without pay was terrifying to me.  Plus the thought that I would have to do this around my real job full time schedule drove me insane.

            Once I was in the position where I had to finally do my internship, I spoke to my department internship advisor about my options and explained my own personal position.  That conversation let a big weight off my shoulders.  All those past few years of wondering and worrying ended right there for me.  I was advised that my actual job could possibly be my internship if my supervisor would approve.  The business I was in which is elderly in-home care can work out as a cultural anthropology internship.  This totally made me look at what I do every day in a completely different light and I immediately realized that there is all sorts of cultural anthropological things going on in the in-home care world.  Needless to say, I was not worried anymore about what I was going to do for my internship.

            Before the internship began I thought about how I would relate my internship to my major.  I knew there was a lot of cultural anthropology type stuff going on at my internship site but I didn’t really know what or how I was going to focus on any of it.  I tried hard to put it all into perspective.  I also did not know yet what was going to be asked of me from the curriculum.  Once the internship officially began and I saw what was on the syllabus it became much clearer on how I was going to get through this.  Now I just needed to put on my anthropology hat on while at work rather than just another day to day employee going through the same day to day motions.

            When the internship began, I made sure that I read all the assignments on the syllabus.  I wanted to have a clear idea of what was asked of me while I was at the site.  I had to make sure that I was thinking in a different way while there at work and how I would relate it to my assignments.  I learned this was very important to do because I never thought of what I do for work daily, I never viewed it in a cultural anthropological light.  I had to stop thinking as an employee and start thinking as an anthropologist while working.  I had to view things from a different lens which, at times, was not as easy as it sounds.

            I am certain that if I had done my internship way back in my younger college years, I would have done a more traditional internship.  I think it was a little difficult for me to really get into the way of thinking in an anthropological way because a majority of my work is in an office atmosphere.  There was not much hands on type stuff going on in my situation so for my internship, I had gotten involved with other areas of my workplace to gain proper information for my assignments, and that made it easier for me to gather information.  Gaining the proper amount of information for my assignments was also difficult but I eventually got through it by referring to my readings.

            Viewing my workplace internship site from a different lens was the single most important thing for my internship.  I had to really try hard to view and analyze things as an anthropologist which can prove hard when you get stuck into day to day activities.  It was very easy to get back into an employee state of mind which showed in my first initial paper and journals I wrote.  I had to write as an anthropologist rather than tell the story of my job and day to day tasks.  I had to delve deep into the reasons why certain issues were happening and how they tie into the anthropology world.  Tying the readings together with what I do really helped open the doors for a lot of every day issues I deal with and made me think of them from an anthropological angle which I had never done before.

Office staff working hard.

            I feel that many Anthropology courses at KSU I completed definitely helped me with doing my internship, especially the cultural anthropology classes.  While I was doing my internship I often thought about certain classes, papers and assignments I completed that directly correlated with my internship.  I can honestly say they helped me with my focus and view of what I was doing at my internship and without having completed those classes, my internship assignments would have been difficult to complete.  Those classes helped shape the understanding of what exactly was being asked of me while doing my internship as an Anthropology major.

            In the end I feel that my experience with my internship was a good one.  It really made me open my eyes in a different way and focus on things I never really thought about before.  I learned there is so much cultural anthropology involved in what I do every day.  Anthropology courses I have taken at KSU really prepared me for my internship and I am happy that I had them to refer back to.  I feel it is important to understand what the internship experience is about early on in college so that it isn’t such a shock when you finally have to do it.  I am happy to have had this experience with my internship and workplace and I feel that it has made me a better employee as well as opened up my anthropological mind to other areas I may not have thought about before.

Clients and staff happy to help out with my internship pictures.

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