United Church Homes Sparks Career Growth with Dynamic Internship Programs

Intern Anna Redd is a communications and marketing junior at Toledo State University.

United Church Homes’ (UCH) commitment to helping staff grow their knowledge and skills is an important part of its culture that extends to non-traditional workers: from students in high school to those in doctorate programs who join the team functioning as interns.

 “We’ve offered internship opportunities for many years,” said Scott Slutz, senior vice president of human resources and chief culture officer. “But over the past five years, we’ve been more deliberate, with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.”

“The opportunities we provide not only benefit those who join our team through internships, but UCH, as well,” he continued. “It’s a two-way street. Those who work as interns gain knowledge, skills and experiences that advance their academic and career goals, while UCH benefits by tapping into the unique perspectives, talent and creativity of those who serve.”

Staff development is an important strategic priority that extends beyond UCH’s 80-plus senior living communities. For some of those who seek internship opportunities at UCH, it’s about fulfilling academic requirements. For others, it’s about gaining knowledge, skills and valuable experiences.

Networking at the community level helps Slutz identify good candidates for UCH internships. As part of the organization’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, Slutz is working to foster a strong relationship with Central State University in Ohio and maintains UCH’s connection with Tougaloo College in Mississippi — both historically Black institutions of higher education.

UCH also partners with the LeadingAge Summer Enrichment Program, which provides undergraduate and graduate students unique opportunities to obtain real-world experience in aging services. Sinclair Community College, located near UCH’s Trinity (life plan) Community at Beavercreek (near Dayton, Ohio), is another valued partner and source of good intern candidates. UCH also partners with Kent (Ohio) State University by offering an administrator in training program.

“We have a tremendous amount of flexibility with internships,” Slutz said.  “We recognize that interns contribute to UCH’s sustainability, but we also host interns because it’s just the right thing to do – to purposefully give people the opportunity to experience senior living.”

Haley Felty

Haley Felty is a graduate clinical psychology student in Wright State University’s (Dayton, Ohio) School of Professional Psychology. Fulfilling a requirement for earning a Doctor of Clinical Psychology degree, she currently works two days a week at The Trinity Community at Beavercreek — the first Trinity/Wright State partnership for psychology training.

“It’s been an awesome experience,” Felty said. “My previous experiences have primarily been with younger individuals, ages 18 to 30. Working with Trinity residents 60 to 90 years old has been such a unique experience. And establishing a new psychology training program that others will benefit from has been particularly rewarding — a legacy I’ll leave after I complete my practicum here.”

Felty also values the opportunity to work as part of interdisciplinary teams. She participates in care team meetings and has meaningful opportunities to contribute. Many of her resident referrals come from family members who share their concerns with UCH staff.

The reality of her work at The Trinity Community at Beavercreek has aligned closely with her expectations, supporting residents dealing with the frustrations of adjustment, and loss of independence, family and friends, and even memory. Working with a different demographic has been a great learning experience for Felty and has impacted her on both a professional and personal level.

Caroline Bennett

Caroline Bennett is an administrator in training (AIT) intern at The Chapel Hill Community in Canal Fulton, Ohio. A student at Kent State University, she is majoring in long-term care and administration with a minor in human resources management.

“I’ve always had a special love for older people,” Bennett said. “This internship opportunity has been a great experience. I love United Church Homes’ faith-based, caring mission and values which I’ve seen at all levels of the organization. I appreciate the hands-on learning experiences and opportunities to contribute in meaningful ways.”

As part of the Kent State program, she is required to complete 1,000 hours of work and training at care facilities like The Chapel Hill Community. She maintains her full-time AIT work schedule through the end of August, when she will graduate, while continuing her studies and preparing for assessments required for an administrator license in the Fall.

“I’ve learned a lot,” Bennett said. “I’m particularly proud to have worked with the nursing team on an infection control project – it was a great experience! I also appreciate how helpful and supportive everyone has been, which is so consistent with UCH’s core values.”

Anna Redd

Anna Redd is a junior at the University of Toledo (Ohio) where she is majoring in communications and marketing. She hopes to continue her internship, which began in August 2023, through graduation next year.

“I’m eager to further develop my writing skills, so my internship at UCH has been great,” Redd said. “I’ve had the opportunity to write press releases, social media posts and web content. The experiences I’ve had here at United Church Homes has also helped me strengthen my organizational skills, build my confidence, and position me for success before and after graduation.”

Redd appreciates the opportunities she’s been given to share her talent and contribute as a member of the UCH team. She was a featured speaker at a social media training event for UCH community staff, focusing on content creation.

Dylan Wilson

Dylan Wilson is a high school student who has met all his graduation requirements and opted to continue his studies through Tri-Rivers Career Center’s work study program rather than graduating early.  He began his internship in information technology in December at UCH’s headquarters in Marion, Ohio.

“It’s been a super nice experience,” Wilson said. “I plan to pursue a career in IT and appreciate the opportunity to have hands-on experience before I start college at Baldwin Wallace University this Fall. I’ve earned a couple of IT certifications, but they are not of great value without opportunities to apply them, which my internship has allowed me to do. I’ll start college with eight months of IT experience!”

Wilson’s perspective as a UCH intern hasn’t been limited to IT. He visited the Polaris Community in Columbus, Ohio, his first day as an intern to experience what UCH and its abundant approach to senior living are all about.

“One of the best things about this experience has been working and communicating with others,” Wilson said. “I’m not very social, so talking with strangers in working through their IT problems has pushed me out of my comfort zone, which is a good thing! Even though I’m a high school student, I’ve been treated with respect and valued for my contributions.”

“It’s not all about how United Church Homes benefits by providing opportunities for interns,” Slutz said. “It’s about providing our interns with meaningful opportunities for personal and professional growth. We truly are investing in the leaders of today and tomorrow.”

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