Building Skills in Unexpected Opportunities with PrepareRI: Shikwana's Story

By Sara Porcaro | Sep 22, 2020
PrepareRI, Skills for Rhode Island's Future, Internship, Rhode Island, Disabilities, Human Services, IDD

The fall semester has started up once again, and as students, parents, and teachers do all they can to stay safe and healthy during the latter part of 2020, the students themselves also have an eye to the future. Whether choosing the place they'll study for their bachelor's degree, or beginning the last year at their college and preparing to join the workforce, the life of academics everywhere continues on--and with it come many opportunities to succeed, just like the ones that Skills for Rhode Island's Future (SkillsRI) hosted this summer. We're looking back at that summer of skill building and networking today with PrepareRI Intern Shikwana Adams--a hard-working student and, during her time with Perspectives, a fantastic addition to the Adult Residential Services team.
Shikwana's academic journey has been one of self-discovery and exploration; starting at the University of Rhode Island, she sought a career path she could feel passionate about, and she eventually decided to take a short break from her studies to reflect and find a program that worked best for her. After taking the time she needed, Shikwana honed in on her love of communication and art. Soon, she found herself finishing her general education at CCRI, where she also completed an internship in digital marketing. She then transferred to RIC to study Media Communications. From there, she tested various areas of interest in her field, such as screenwriting, to see which mode of media communications she enjoyed most. However, what she didn't expect as she explored writing and digital marketing was how much she could learn about communication from an internship with a human services agency like Perspectives.
"I was wondering how working as a Direct Support Professional would relate to my major and the work I want to do," Shikwana admits, "but I learned so many different ways to communicate with the individuals I support, and that's a really important skill in itself."
Within the Perspectives Adult Residential Program, Shikwana worked alongside her team to support individuals during every step of their day, from getting ready for the day to finding safe and exciting activities to participate in at home and in the community after many public spaces opened up over the warmer months. She found that her creativity and communication skills not only gave her the edge she needed to help individuals have a great time each day, but also grew as her fellow team members coached and mentored her along the way. With how welcoming her team was, as well as how they made sure she had the tools necessary to succeed, her experience at Perspectives has been both a fun and fruitful one.
"Everyone has been so nice, always willing to answer what questions I may have," Shikwana notes. "The work itself is a little more laid back than I thought, too, since I was working in someone's home. I enjoyed getting to know the individuals I supported as I worked, too."
Beyond that, it's that willingness to provide answers and direction that made Shikwana feel more comfortable--both in her internship and in her academics. As a first-generation college student, being able to turn to others for advice and support in a new environment isn't only a positive, it's a necessity; without the resources to guide oneself with, or the professionals and other guiding figures to offer advice, it becomes challenging to make sense of the many different paths and opportunities one could spend their time pursuing. At URI, Shikwana felt stuck in her studies and unsure where to turn, but at CCRI and RIC, she identified the resources that could help her in her career development and advancing her studies all over campus. In fact, that was how she found out about PrepareRI: a flyer posted on the hallway in RIC.
"I think any student should really take advantage of their resources: career centers, advisors, job fairs, the writing center, anything," says Shikwana. "It's important to stay in touch with professors and other classmates, too, and to take note of flyers. You never know where a new opportunity could come from or what someone might know that can help."
And now, coming into the fall semester, Shikwana has gone from intern to employee, as she began her full-time position with the team this September. She brings her own knowledge and experience into a new semester of school: namely, the new understanding of the I/DD community, and a deeper understanding of social consciousness in the workplace and everyday life. These skills will prove beneficial not only in her relations with fellow professionals, but also in the manner that she communicates through the content she develops for mass audiences. We're excited to have her join the Perspectives team, and we're wishing her success in her academic and professional career as she continues to push forward!


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