Twenty-two undergraduate college students from the Coachella Valley participated in the Health Career Connection Internship program this summer though OneFuture Coachella Valley. They spent ten weeks as full-time, paid interns at eighteen healthcare related sites across the valley, working on high-impact projects for valley residents.
A special focus for this year’s program was exploring the Behavioral Health Workforce needs and opportunities across the Coachella Valley. On August 8, fourteen interns participated in a behavioral health intern field day, visiting three behavioral health providers to learn about their services and career opportunities.
First stop was the Transitional Age Youth (TAY) Drop-in Center. The TAY Center offers a variety of support services for youth ages 16-25, including yoga, meditation, life skills classes, individual and family therapy and psychiatric services. Andreea Tomescu, LMFT, and behavioral health services supervisor at TAY Center, led the tour and shared her career journey and experience. Clearly passionate about her work, she told interns, “You have to be passionate about this field because, although it is always rewarding, it can be a challenging career.”
Next, the students visited with Terry Cummings, LCSW, and wellness center director for the Joslyn Center, and his intern Jose Andrade-Aguilera. Joslyn Center provides support to adult ages 50+, including a new Aging Mastery Program, which seeks to empower individuals and help build meaningful social relationships. Jose shared that he thought his youth would be a challenge for this project, but quickly found that the program participants enjoyed his 20-something perspective.
Last stop was SafeHouse of the Desert, a voluntary emergency shelter for youth ages 11-17. The shelter is open to youth facing individual or family problems, or abuse of any kind. During their stay, youth receive consistent individual and family therapy, life skills classes, peer support, and also are able to earn school credit. Students also visited their transitional living program, Harrison House, for homeless young adults ages 18-22. Program Manager Maribel Pimentel told the group about their other outreach programs including the What’sUp SafeHouse app, which provides 24/7 anonymous online counseling with a licensed professional through their app or via text.
Crystal Escobar, HCC intern at Desert Oasis Health Care and health science student at College of the Desert, participated in the site tour and shared that she is proud to see mental health being addressed openly and positively in the valley. As she pursues her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Crystal now hopes to integrate a mental health component into her studies, “It is eye-opening to know that there are people I can reach out to in this field,” Crystal acknowledges.
The behavioral health intern field day exposed interns to an array of services and career options in the behavioral health field. Additionally, they learned about the current and future need for behavioral health providers in the Coachella Valley. The HCC interns wrapped up the site tour thrilled with the vast career opportunities in the behavioral health field!
Editorial by Rubi Becerril Gonzalez, Community Impact/Alignment Project Coordinator at OneFuture Coachella Valley. For more information, collaboration with partners, scholarship program or how to get involved, please visit onefuturecv.org.