Alumni Interview: Stephanie Scheffel, #92
Interview with Stephanie Scheffel, #92
Esther Craven, intern #125, reporting on intern alum #92, Stephanie Scheffel.
Drawn to MusicWorx by a desire to explore a variety of clientele populations, Stephanie’s adventure into internship led to her developing well-rounded skills that would help lead to her current position as a music therapist in Austin, TX. Read on for Stephanie’s story and her advice to future interns!
1. What is your current job?
I’m in my second year as a full-time music therapist for a large school district north of Austin, Texas. I work with children, adolescents and young adults ages 5-22 with a variety of unique needs.
2. Would you say MusicWorx helped you get to where you are today? (If yes, how?)
MusicWorx absolutely helped me get to where I am today – not only professionally but also personally! From being at MusicWorx, I developed a much stronger clinical intuition – I learned to sense what was happening in a session, and I learned when and how to step in (and when to step back and let things happen!) to guide a client’s experience. I also learned about working as a team – I’ve always been someone who would prefer to work alone on a project, and being at MusicWorx taught me how important is it to not only accept, but to treasure and actively seek out the creativity, wisdom, and perspective of others.
3. What drew you to the MusicWorx internship?
At the time when I started looking for internships, I wasn’t sure yet what populations and what settings I was most passionate about, and I felt that MusicWorx offered an incredible range of work environments for me to explore. I also was really interested in learning about the private practice aspect of music therapy from one of our professions’ most successful entrepreneurs (hi Barbara!), because I wanted to be comfortable with opening my own private practice if that was ever the best option for me. Finally, I think my soul really needed an adventure – something outside of my Texan comfort zone – and MusicWorx definitely fit the bill!
4. What was a favorite moment in your MusicWorx experience?
I saw a gentleman in the oncology unit at a medical facility for a period of several months at the end of his life, and our relationship started when he literally yelled at me in the hallway – “Hey! Is that a guitar? Can I see it?” I brought it to him, and he began to play my guitar and tell me about his experiences playing guitar with fellow soldiers in World War II. I had never been invited into someone’s life so quickly, and I went back to visit him and his family many times to sing together and talk about his very full and wonderful life. I hope the relationship was as meaningful for him as it was for me. I also remember favorite moments with my co-interns and Barbara and the relationships we formed – walking on Coronado Beach at sunset, eating dinner together after a long day at the hospital, going hiking, and getting coffee (so often that I think I could probably order for my co-intern to this day!).
5. Are there any aspects of what you learned at the internship that especially prepared you for your career today?
Absolutely! There are very practical aspects of my job now that are very similar to what I did in internship, including learning to create and track a departmental budget, chart my mileage, and manage time driving between multiple locations. I also learned how to write clinically and efficiently (a skill that I now use daily although the terms are different). In terms of my overall experience, I think it is interesting that I now work with a population I had limited exposure to during my internship. However, the one placement I did have with children on the autism spectrum at MusicWorx was a tremendous challenge and a big growing experience for me, and I think that placement definitely sparked my interest in working with children and young adults in the future.
6. What was one of your biggest challenges during internship?
I’m a planner and I like to feel secure, so having absolutely no clue what I would do once my internship was over (and balancing that uncertainty with that of my future husband, who had just moved to a new city for a job) was very unnerving while I was in San Diego. I think it was probably the first time in my life that I could think, “What will I be doing six months from now?” and not know the answer. Another challenge for me was learning to open myself up to very honest (and much needed) feedback without becoming defensive or frustrated with myself. That is a continued journey for me (as I imagine it is for many people), but the multiple opportunities we had to receive and give feedback during internship really helped me grow in that area.
7. What was your biggest “aha” moment during your professional/personal growth?
I can’t recall a single “aha!” moment that encapsulates this, but I think the biggest realization I had during internship was learning the unique strengths and difficulties I have as a person, a musician, and a therapist. It’s one thing to tell someone your strengths and weaknesses, but the incredible amount of clinical experience you have as an intern can really bring those things to the forefront of your awareness and force you to acknowledge and deal with them. Realizing who I am, who I am not, and who I am becoming helped me clarify what I can do to grow every day.
8. What would be your one piece of advice to future MusicWorx interns?
I’d encourage future interns to take everything in, to actively listen and learn, not to fear or suppress the question “I wonder what would happen if…,” and to learn and grow from feedback. Also, you should go at least once to Coronado Beach at sunset – it is good for the soul 🙂