Lydia Pfluger, a student at University of Wisconsin-Stout, landed a competitive summer internship with the National Council on Family Relations in its Minneapolis office.
Pfluger, of Grantsburg, has been working two days a week at the national organization since the second week of June and will continue until the end of August.
The NCFR, founded in 1938, is the oldest nonprofit, nonpartisan, multidisciplinary professional association focused solely on family science research, practice and education.
Pfluger, majoring in human development and family studies with a minor in applied peace studies and a concentration in social work, is president of the Stout Council on Family Relations, a student affiliate organization of NCFR.
As the only summer intern, Pfluger works with staff members on projects including tracking federal bills relating to family issues; researching textbooks used by Certified Family Life Educator-approved academic programs; locating CFLE continuing educational opportunities; and updating information on the NCFR website and in the NCFR database.
"It is just as much a job as it is a learning experience. I have gained so much insight on the inner workings of a nonprofit organization and have learned many things about the family science field as a whole," Pfluger said.
"I feel as though I am part of larger initiatives that have the ability to change families and individuals from a large scale. The staff allows me to be a part of various conference calls and meetings with important individuals in the field, and it is a rewarding experience to be a part of.
"I couldn't be happier with this professional and personal development opportunity," Pfluger said.
Dawn Cassidy, director of education at NCFR, recruits and works with the interns. Typically the office doesn't have summer interns but when it does it only has one.
For Pfluger's position, the office received more than 30 applications. "We narrowed it down by focusing only on those with a family-specific degree, but that still left us with about 10 candidates. We did phone interviews with three and picked Lydia based on her demonstrated leadership and experience," Cassidy said.
Cassidy and staff are pleased with their choice. "We offered credit for the internship experience but were impressed that Lydia pursued the opportunity even though she didn't need the credit. She said she was just interested in having the opportunity to work at NCFR. She is a quick learner and a hard worker," Cassidy said.
UW-Stout: right major, right size
Pfluger chose UW-Stout for two reasons. She knew that she wanted to work in the human service field, and the university's human development and family studies major afforded her that option. "The major allowed me the flexibility to study and land a job in many different related areas," she said.
She also liked the idea of small classes taught by professors, not teaching assistants. "I wanted to be able to feel comfortable asking questions and meeting with a professor that knew my name," Pfluger said.
As a result of her internship experience, Pfluger's eyes have been opened to new opportunities in the field of family science and she expects to pursue a graduate degree.
"I am interested in working on the macro level to help improve the lives of individuals and families, and there are many graduate degrees that can help me achieve that. It is just a matter of deciding which degree is the best fit for me," she said.