Career Connections


Brandon Wheat

Major: Kinesiology and Health


Minor/option/emphasis: KIN-Exercise Science

Year: Graduate
Hometown/State: Arizona

Type of experience: Internship
Company/Organization: Oaknoll Retirement Community
Company/Organization website: http://oaknoll.com/
Title: Wellness Assistant
Destination: Iowa City, Iowa
Timeframe: June 6, 2016-July 29,2016

Advisor/Coordinator Email: dpower@iastate.edu

I was responsible for...
During my internship at Oaknoll I had many responsibilities. These ranged from leading exercise classes, taking residents on walks, recording attendance in a data sheet, organizing work rosters, helping run a technology help group, set-up Wii Sports games, work one-on-one with residents, senior fitness assessments, and the list goes on. I helped work on a project called the Silver Games, which is a huge gathering for all the Iowa City retirement communities to come together and have a large "Olympic" style event. I discovered since being at Oaknoll that your job description means nothing. Obviously everyone has one and there are rules, but if a resident had a question and they asked me I was expected to try and find an answer. I think the best responsibility I had while working at Oaknoll was just being a friend to everyone.

I accomplished...
While at Oaknoll I would say my greatest accomplishments ranged from completely taking over certain classes, to making some really great friends. I was able to achieve all my goals and that was really fun for me. I was able to work with a lot of residents one-on-one as well which helped me put my personal trainer skills to use and allowed me to learn more. I also had to completely take over and create a whole new class for an aqua exercise class. That was really fun, and it is going smoothly.

My most valuable effort...
The most valuable project for me was being handed a class full of residents that a previous instructor was not able to teach and having to come up with my own plan, and actually lead the exercise plan for the class. It really helped me learn how to properly put together every thing I learned. The main focus of the class was balance, so having to come up with a class specifically for balance was really challenging.I think the best way for me to learn is to be thrown into the fire and this is exactly what happened.

I learned...
The most valuable experience I learned at Oaknoll was my connections to other residents. I think the hardest part about working with people is figuring out how you need to connect and communicate with your "clientele". I had to befriend, and gain the trust for a lot of residents and I noticed as the time went on more and more people opened up to me and became more friendly. Also, learning how to use the proper speech, and vocabulary when speaking with the residents. So, while it may not be the traditional project, I'd say me learning how to interact individuals was my most valuable experience.

I will never forget...
The most memorable experience I will have from Oaknoll is walking into classes and being greeted by everyone with big smiles, and welcomes. Also, at the end of classes where it is endless thanks, and praise. The feeling of being wanted, and welcomed will be my most memorable experience.

A surprising discovery...
I think one thing that really surprised me about my profession (specifically working with seniors in retirement centers) is that many places do not offer adequate classes. It is also very exciting to hear that seniors are now looking for properly run wellness activities. This makes me a little bit more hopeful for my profession, and I guess gives me a happier manner about how I approach my profession.

Advice for others...
Pick something you really love to do, because your boss, supervisor, or whomever is above you, will know if you do not like what you are doing.

I first learned about this career-building experience from...
I just knew I wanted to work with the senior population, and I figured going to Oaknoll would be a great first step in terms of exposure and what a future career in the profession will hold for me.

I landed this assignment by...
I just gave the Wellness Coordinator, Laura O'Conner, a call and she was more than happy to get the ball rolling.

I wanted this experience because...
I wanted to work with the senior population in a fitness setting, and what better place to start than a retirement facility with an excellent wellness program.

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