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Natalie’s internship experience paves the way for UCLA exchange study

30 January, 2024

Natalie Macdonald recently interned with Ronald McDonald House Charities WA (RMHC WA) through the McCusker Centre for Citizenship, and credits her internship experience as a factor in receiving an offer to study Applied Developmental Psychology at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) on exchange in 2024.

Natalie, currently studying a Bachelor of Arts at UWA with majors in Psychological and Behavioural Science and Criminology, was a Community Engagement intern with RMHC WA, a role which saw her work in the Family Room Program and assist with ongoing development of the Family Room service.

“During my interview for selective short-term exchange programs, I discussed my internship experience at RMHC WA,” Natalie said.

“The panel was very interested in the UWA McCusker Centre Internship in general, as well as my personal and lived experience.”

Natalie said that key highlights of the internship were meaningful interpersonal experiences, including one occasion where she was able to support a mother while her son was in surgery, and building rapport with children who had been hospitalised.

“I never imagined that my lived experiences would be useful and beneficial in assisting others throughout my internship. I gained new perspective on the potential I have to make a difference in other people’s lives and how small things can make a difference, such as offering a cup of coffee and a chat.

“Another major highlight was getting the opportunity to work with RMHC WA multidisciplinary team; I got to learn from past school teachers, clinical psychologists, nurses, volunteers, family liaison officers, and more,” Natalie said.

Natalie will travel to participate in the exchange program at UCLA in July 2024, studying Applied Developmental Psychology, with a focus on pre-school and school-aged care and education, as well as Dynamic Perspectives on Parenting Children and Adolescence.

RMHC WA Family Program Manager, Julie Field, said that Natalie had shown a high level of dedication to her responsibilities, approaching every task with enthusiasm and a genuine passion for the well-being of families in the program.

“Among Natalie’s standout strengths are her excellent interpersonal and communication skills. She consistently demonstrated the ability to connect with families, creating a supportive and empathetic environment.

“Natalie made a significant and positive impact on our family programs team,” Ms Field said.

Natalie said the McCusker Centre for Citizenship Internship Program had helped her develop skills for her future work, and she would strongly recommend it to other students.

“There are certain skills that you will never learn in a classroom, and an internship will teach you those skills.

“Interpersonal skills, work ethic, and problem solving are important to develop. As someone who wants to work in Family and Mental Health Law, these are the essential skills that I will carry for the rest of my life and help me to get to where I want to be in the future.”