By Melissa Pacheco
WorkAbility III Graduate Intern
San Diego Community College District
No matter how hard we try, we cannot control time, life experiences and age. Going into my grad school program, I never thought twice about my age until I noticed I was the youngest one in my cohort. Being the youngest student in my Rehabilitation Counseling cohort, only made me feel that I needed to prove my worthiness to be a part of the program just as much as my classmates. I shortly found out that diversity in age is a good thing among my classmates. Cross-generational counseling is defined as pairings having a substantial age gap or from different generations. I realized that I had an opportunity, as an intern, to build great rapport, regardless of the age of my classmates.
An as an intern, I have an opportunity to work with a wide range of students. Specifically, as a vocational intern, I interact with students daily to provide them with vocational advice to find employment related to their career goals. With my younger students, I take the opportunity to remind them that not too long ago I was in their shoes, meeting with my own career counselor, and how much it helped me. I assure them, that together we will be able to reach their vocational goals by focusing. I can build a relationship with those students much quicker, while at the same time, making sure to set clear boundaries. For example, I had a student ask me for my personal phone number, I had to remind her that ethically I could not, but I could provide her with my office telephone number. Each situation may differ, I am happy that, as an intern, I get the opportunity to encounter different situations.
I have noticed, with my non-millennial students, I get asked about my age. I take this question as an opportunity to let them know how focus driven I am about my internship, and, that I am there to assist them in reaching their goals. After I have established that my work ethic is above all, I notice a seamless mutual respect that happens afterwards. I have been fortunate to have students that are not only respectful, but that I can learn from as well.
Overall, every student that walks through my doors will be a new experience. No two students will be the same, and neither should counselors. It is important to take each day as a new learning experience and be open minded. I firmly believe that cross-generation counseling is excellent and should be acknowledged more. Many people can learn from everyone’s experience and bring their unique perspective to different situations. I am currently a second year student pursuing my Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling at San Diego State University, and I am excited for all of the unforeseen experiences I have and will encounter as an intern. Meanwhile, I am grateful for where I am at in this journey and excited for my future in rehabilitating counseling.