Sociology: Case intern for Catholic Charities felt called to connect

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When rushing to class on a cool spring afternoon, a student, troubled by lack of plans for the upcoming summer, glanced at the ground to find a pamphlet detailing the perfect opportunity. She applied immediately, landed the internship and obtained invaluable knowledge and experience that summer. If it sounds like a scene from a movie, it isn’t. 

Jamie Piotrowski, a Waynesburg University senior sociology major with a focus in family studies, actually stumbled upon a pamphlet for Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh, Pa., that day.

“I really loved every part of the internship,” Piotrowski said. “I’ve taken classes on social work, so I used the skills learned in class in the field. It was a very easy adjustment.” 

The case intern for Catholic Charities regularly met with clients to establish life improvement goals and plans and made case notes on the clients. Her work focused on finding referrals and job opportunities for people injured, ill, homeless, out of work or otherwise disadvantaged. She also worked in the Catholic Charities' Welcome Center, where she said anything could happen. 

“People came in for referrals for other agencies, clothing, food and housing, among other things,” Piotrowski said. “This field is all about connecting with people - their feelings and just listening to them.”

Though frustrations arose with cancelled appointments, missed placement opportunities and unmotivated clients, Piotrowski said that connecting with her clients was easy considering her service experiences at Waynesburg University. 

“A mission statement like Waynesburg's encourages people to serve without judgment,” Piotrowski said. “We help people because we like to and because that's what we are called to do. It doesn't matter how people get into their particular situations, how much money they make or what kind of illness they have.” 

Waynesburg’s mission helped Piotrowski in more than one way. Not only did it guide her in meeting the needs of disadvantaged clients, but it also helped her to stand out to supervisors and colleagues. 

“Jamie was an excellent intern case worker. She showed compassion and a willingness to truly help those we serve,” said Jocelyn Bosick, program coordinator for Catholic Charities in Pittsburgh, Pa. “She was the first intern I have had from Waynesburg, and I am very impressed with the strong training she must have received to step in so effortlessly.”