Internships with the IRC in Kansas are always eventful, but this is especially true when you get the rare opportunity to help create a brand-new program. The IRC’s new anti-trafficking program, The Lighthouse Project, launched just as Leane joined the team in January as the Anti-Trafficking Case Aid Intern. During her internship, Leane has shadowed the Anti-Trafficking Caseworker, learned about case management, conducted community outreach, and networked with other local agencies and service providers.
This wasn’t Leane’s first exposure to the IRC, however. She was originally a volunteer family mentor about three years ago and is excited to be back with the team to complete her social work practicum. One thing which Leane loves about the IRC is that relationship-centered work is the heartbeat of the organization’s programs. She’s noticed that IRC programs first focus on the client and their needs, catering the available services into a personalized experience for that person.
One of her most memorable intern experiences was when Leane and the Anti-Trafficking Caseworker went out into the community to conduct outreach and distribute blessing bags to people who are homeless. This was a great opportunity for Leane to have conversations about human trafficking. Because identifying human trafficking can sometimes be tricky, Leane believes it’s important for The Lighthouse Project to have feet on the ground and for staff and interns to get to know the community. This experience gave them valuable insight and allowed them to be creative in the ways they increase awareness about The Lighthouse Project and the services offered to survivors of human trafficking.
One unexpected opportunity that Leane has had this semester is getting to see the research-side of anti-trafficking work. She’s learned that she loves literature reviews as well as learning the process of creating surveys. This work will help to obtain necessary data on the prevalence of human trafficking in Kansas.
Leane says she would recommend an internship with the IRC because the staff do a great job of providing interns with the opportunity to take their internship and run with it. All interns are encouraged to tailor their internship to their specific interests. Plus, it’s a great team to join. Leane finds the staff to be very relational and one of her favorite things is attending The Lighthouse Project’s weekly department meeting. When working with programs that target traumatic situations, Leane says it’s valuable to have a team who you enjoy being with and can also have fun with to balance out the heavy weight of the work.
Leane hasn’t been the only one to benefit from her time at the IRC in Kansas. Staff report that Leane is always a positive, bright light and that to work with her is a joy. She goes above and beyond her responsibilities, often volunteering to assist other programs. What is next for Leane after her internship? She states that she would like to continue being involved in anti-trafficking work in some capacity, whether that’s with clients or outreach. She is also interested in learning more about research and helping with anti-trafficking work that way. Whatever Leane chooses to do next, the IRC in Kansas wishes her the very best and knows she will be successful in her future endeavors.