\ˈprak-ti-kəm\ a word frequently heard on the graduate level and usually synonymous with students seeking professions in teaching, nursing or in our case psychotherapy. It involves working in the area of study and applying the knowledge that has been obtained during coursework. For first year graduate students the word is foreign and for second year the word may bring a sense of anxiety, excitement and glee.
On Monday, March 21, 2016 Pepperdine University – Irvine Graduate Campus held its Practicum Mentor Faire. The practicum mentor faire is designed to give graduate students, specifically pre-practicum students the opportunity to ask questions of students working with agencies and seeing clients. It is a chance to obtain insight into this somewhat exclusive experience. Not only are students gaining insight, but they receive courage and empowerment from a group of students who have faced the beast, and are conquering it.
During the 30 minute meeting, it was a small intimate setting. Students from pre-practicum sat in a group, while the mentors sat in a circle fielding questions. Each mentor provided a description of their agency, supervisory expectations, and a holistic synopsis of their day to day process. Represented agencies were Monarch Shores, California Family Institute, PRYDE, Turning Point, and ? (Nicola: I don’t recall the location in Whittier).
Students asked questions that ranged from “how many hours are you allowed?” to “is it possible to work for an agency while accruing your hours?”. Each question was answered with great insight and compassion, always reassuring the students that the journey through practicum was possible with a plan and strategy.
One student shared her concerns about having a full-time job and landing an agency that would be able to understand her life commitments. After each of the mentors finish trying to help think of ways she could make it work, I recall one of them simply saying “you can do it!”
While the mentor faire was brief, I left with a greater appreciation of the work that the Professional Development and Clinical Training team is trying to do for students. For me, the mentor faire would be likened to a pre-game preparation with coaches or senior players who know the inner workings of the process. I left feeling reassured that when it was time for me to encounter that foreign word known as \ˈprak-ti-kəm\, Pepperdine University – Irvine Graduate Campus would ensure that I was well prepared.