Jessica McGifford ’12
Jessica McGifford ’12
Major: Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies
Employer: Our Sister’s House
PLU Connection: Abi McLane ’08, victim services supervisor at Crystal Judson Family Justice Center
As part of her senior year capstone project, Jessica McGifford was required to take an internship. Through a recommendation from the PLU Women’s Center, she wound up at Pierce County’s Crystal Judson Family Justice Center, working with individuals and families affected by domestic violence. There, she met Abi McLane, the victim services supervisor, and also a PLU grad.
McGifford and McLane were never on campus at the same time, but their experiences are remarkably similar. Both were sociology and women’s and gender studies double-majors. Both built lasting relationships with their professors and PLU staff members who, now that McGifford and McLane are in the working world, have turned into professional relationships.
And, most certainly, both developed real-world tools through mentoring and training programs at places like the Women’s Center. For graduates like McGifford and McLane who aspire for a career in advocacy, there is no better way to prepare.
“The interns who go through the PLU sexual assault peer education team training program are prepared weeks in advance (compared to other schools),” McLane said. “That has to do with the mentoring and the faculty at PLU. The professional identity of PLU students comes out a lot sooner.”
McLane would know. In addition to being the victim services supervisor for the Family Justice Center, she runs its countywide internship program.
When McGifford reflects on her senior internship at the Family Justice Center, she recalls how explicit McLane was with her. “Abi made it clear to me,” she said. “She gave me a list and said, ‘Here are all of the things you will be able to do after your four-month internship.’ And she was exactly right.”
McLane added: “On that list is everything we would want an entry-level advocate to be able to do. When they leave here, we know they can say, ‘I have the skills.’”
McGifford did have the skills – it was evident just one month after she graduated in May. When a position opened at the Family Justice Center’s community partner Our Sister’s House, a non-profit agency that provides domestic violence services to families and youth, McLane suggested McGifford apply. She was scheduled first thing Monday morning. By the end of the interview, McGifford was told, “Here’s some paperwork you need to fill out. It’s for your new job.”
McLane said that type of connection is not unique. After all, she too was able to take the skills she gained at PLU, combine them with an internship brokered by her mentors at the Women’s Center, and turn them into a job.
“Our Sister's House has a long history of hiring people from PLU,” McLane said.
She was hardly the first. In fact, PLU has been placing students in the social work field for decades.