For my final semester I chose to do an internship. From the very beginning of my course work I have always been interested in doing cultural research, I was given the opportunity to work with the homeless population in the metro Atlanta area this summer. I was able to work and perform ethnographic research at Must Ministries a nonprofit charitable organization located in Marietta, GA that operates a homeless shelter and outreach program. From the very beginning of the semester I was very excited to begin doing my first ethnographic study where I could begin to apply what I’ve learned during my course work at KSU, by studying and analyzing the behavior of the homeless (clients) through interviews, participant and non-participant observation in the hope of better understanding this particular sub-culture.
I began my internship working in the intake section of the Elizabeth Inn shelter, which was at first overwhelming and exciting at the same time. In the intake section I was able to conduct structured interviews with many of the clients, which went surprisingly well, since I didn’t have considerable experience conducting interviews, the structured interview did not require extensive training but it assisted in improving my overall interview technique as well as being an excellent way of building confidence for future unstructured interviews and field work. Working with and interacting with the homeless population helped me to gain a better understanding of the daily life of this sub-culture of our society by spending significant time studying their behavior. Later I worked in case management, where I was able to build rapport with many clients and conduct more extensive interviews with the clients which gave me a broader view of the homeless and what’s more, while working in case management I realized that each person’s situation was unique.
This internship has not only provided me with an invaluable experience it has also allowed me to have an one a kind experience not only from the stand point of applying what I’ve learned during my course work in the form of observations, interviews, fieldnotes all used to form conclusions based on data, but also by broadening my perception of the homeless, and obtain a more complete depiction of this sub-culture of our society.