Internships

Volunteer and student internship opportunities are available at the Fairfield Center’s Harrisonburg offices.  These positions are reserved for individuals interested in learning about and gaining experience in the field of alternative dispute resolution.  Internships are unpaid, but offer interns invaluable hands-on learning opportunities in dispute resolution.

If you are interested in an internship, please read the following descriptions and contact Fairfield.

Internship Responsibilities

Throughout our history, the Fairfield Center has built a strong track record of collaborating with colleges and universities to provide a quality learning environment for student growth.  As a site supervisor, our responsibilities begin with providing each student or volunteer information regarding his or her job description and learning activities.

We expect the internship to be academically challenging. While we anticipate some “busy work” during the intern’s experience, this part of the intern’s job will be less than 30 percent of the total responsibilities.  All of the Fairfield’s mediation professionals complete busy work tasks and the intern will complete these types of tasks along with other members of the office team.

Simultaneously, each intern will be involved in substantive mediation projects having significant independence within a team framework. Direct supervision will also help each intern to continue to develop professionally. Providing direct mediation services to the public, an intern will serve as an interface between: clients in conflict, clients and their mediators, as well as the Center and the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County and Staunton/Waynesboro/Augusta County communities.

Effective case management requires careful thought, problem-solving and charting by each student and professional. To provide a well rounded view of our organization, each intern will also have access to different departments, staff meetings and board meetings. Because the nature of human service agency work can be intense, supervisors and staff are always available to help student and volunteer interns. In addition, every intern will have a direct supervisor to meet with regularly to discuss job performance, questions and interests. This supervisor will also provide more formal evaluations that meet the requirements of educational institutions. Twice a month, the complete Mediation Services team of professionals and student interns meet to discuss cases, questions and learning opportunities.

Conflict Resolution and Mediation (Basic) Training: The gateway training for all levels of mediation in Virginia (GDC, J&DRC, & Circuit Courts), interns participate at no charge ($550 value) and gain an understanding of the principles, processes, and skills for facilitative mediation practice. Attendees enhance their communication skills, understanding of conflict theory, practice of mediation, and how to evaluate their progress. The course examines general community and workplace disputes, the function of a mediator within a court system, and special challenges in the mediation context (e.g., the role of attorneys in mediation). The Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia certifies this course and the trainer. Additional training may also be available.

Intern Job Description

While interns experience substantial exposure to mediation, the internship is a Case Manager position—not a mediator role. We hope that each intern will have the opportunity to observe and co-mediate in real situations, but we cannot guarantee this will happen. Interns do engage in a great deal of intermediary and mediative behavior through case management and other responsibilities. Exposure to other branches of service and activities increases with the amount of time available each week over the course of the semester.

Case Management (primary function A):

  • Intake interviews: either through face-to-face, telephone or written contact. Gather relevant information from potential clients, explain mediation process and assess relevance for mediation.
  • Communication & recording: maintain quality service delivery through complete charting of case events by computer data entry and communication with co-workers.
  • Scheduling: coordinate clients’ schedules with appropriately qualified mediators and observers. Send reminder cards and complete reminder phone calls.
  • Preparation: place forms in case file, assign case to mediation room, check mediation room for condition and necessary materials and greet mediators and clients when they arrive.
  • Follow-up: reschedule appropriate cases, contact clients for follow-up interview and file cases.
  • Court Services: attend General District and Juvenile Domestic Relations Court according to schedule, identify cases appropriate for referral, conduct on-site intake interviews, complete case preparation and observe or co-mediate when appropriate.

Support Services (primary function B):

Answer phone when office manager is not available, photocopy and maintain stock of forms, type correspondence, assist with mailings, become knowledgeable of various Fairfield service branches and fulfill other office duties as necessary.

Mediation (secondary function A):

After orientation, serve as observer or co-mediator during mediation sessions when appropriate.

Fairfield Center Representation (secondary function B):

Observe or participate in mediation services staff, full staff and board meetings, represent Fairfield at community meetings and speak to groups/organizations regarding Fairfield services.

Learning Experience

Interns will experience many new and exciting things as part of the Fairfield team. Of course, each individual experience will differ, but we have found many of our past interns

  • Develop higher levels of comfort and mobility within intense and conflictual situations.
  • Enhance interpersonal communication skills (face-to-face, telephone contact and written correspondence).
  • Strengthen personal work habits and skills through the combination of high individual responsibility within a team atmosphere.
  • Gain valuable knowledge of, and experience in, the structure and functioning of a private, non-profit community service organization.
  • Obtain greater awareness of personal strengths and areas for continual growth within a structured environment geared toward learning.