Career Connections

Jennifer Gibbons

Major: Kinesiology and Health

Minor/option/emphasis: KIN-Community and Public HealthSecondary minor: Gerontology

Year: Senior
Hometown/State: Sanborn, Iowa

Type of experience: Internship
Company/Organization: Green Hills Retirement Community
Company/Organization website:
Title: Leisure Services Intern
Destination: Ames, Iowa
Timeframe: 1/11 - 4/29

Advisor/Coordinator Email:

I was responsible for...
Assisting the Leisure Services staff with developing and implementing activities. Providing hands-on involvement during activities. Documenting residents’ activities. Assisting in the planning, orientation and supervision of volunteers. Building rapport amongst residents and developing relationships.

I accomplished...
I feel that my best accomplishments are when I can make a resident smile, laugh, or feel better.

My most valuable effort...
My most valuable efforts are when I create and implement activities and when I write residents’ care plans. When thinking of an activity many things must be considered: will the topic, game, activity be attainable for residents with ranging mental & physical capabilities? Will it be generally enjoyed by all? If something goes awry, what can be done instead? If volunteers are available what can they do to help? What kind of refreshments can be served for those with regular and special diets? For care plans, it is very valuable to get the whole picture of the residents care and well-being and then be able to respectfully and intellectually convey it into words. Keeping the resident and their family accurately informed is extremely important.

I learned...
I feel that one of the most important things I learned during my internship was how differently Alzheimer’s and dementia affects each individual. How to recognize their good days and give them encouragement and pride; how to take care of them on their bad days whether it’s talking with them or giving them their space.

I will never forget...
My most memorable experience was when I was visiting with a resident and his wife. I asked them how they met and they said it was love at first sight. They spoke of their deep love for each other and it brought all three of us to tears.

A surprising discovery...
I always try to relate with the residents when I speak with them. When I was conversing with a resident who had dementia about past times at the family cabin by the lake, I slowly realized that they had changed their replies and were speaking as if they were my age and they just had those teenage experiences last summer. I felt reverenced to be allowed in that transportation back into time.

Advice for others...
Always take the initiative, don’t be afraid to ask for help and criticism, and never be too busy to visit with a resident.

I first learned about this career-building experience from...
When I volunteered there, I thought this would be a great place to have an internship so I simply asked.

I landed this assignment by...
I started volunteering there the semester before for a class and when it came time for me to find an internship I simply asked. We had the official interview and I got it.

I wanted this experience because...
I’ve worked at a retirement community ever since I was 15 and it felt natural to have an internship in one. Especially since Green Hills is a wonderful establishment and I had a lot of fun volunteering there.

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