Olivia Miller has always liked working with youth. She served as a summer camp counselor and worked in youth development at a local agency. But when she decided to return to school to finish her degree, she wanted something where she could still work with youth but have the flexibility for a full-time class schedule.
“There’s definitely a lot of room for personal growth and professional growth. There’s a wealth of opportunities within the company.”
She had several friends who worked at Oaklawn’s Mishawaka campus. On their recommendation, she applied to be an on-call Mental Health Technician, picking up mostly second-shift work as needed and has found it to be the right fit at the right time.
As an MHT, Olivia accompanies and supervises youth anywhere they go on campus, and particularly on their residential unit. She’ll accompany them to dinner and recreational activities and ensure they complete their homework, chores and hygiene routines. All the while, she’s building a therapeutic relationship with the youth to help them achieve their goals.
“The greatest reward is definitely seeing the kids succeed in things they’re struggling with, seeing their progress, seeing them go from oppositional to a little more compliant,” she said. “The greatest challenge is not to take their negative behaviors personally.”
It takes about six months to truly get the feel for the job, she says, and the extensive training she received initially helped prepare her for the ups and downs of working with the youth. She also appreciates the breadth of Oaklawn’s services and all the career possibilities that come with it.