Jamie Peers’ summer internship took her a little south of Bloomington-Normal. Peers, an athletic training major in Illinois State’s School of Kinesiology and Recreation, spent her summer as an athletic training intern at the Kennedy Space Center RehabWorks in Florida.

At RehabWorks, Peers was responsible for evaluating acute and chronic injuries and assisting in the development and implementation of rehabilitation plans. “Within the first week, they had us performing hands-on patient care and participating in the evaluation process, and by the midterm mark we were able to make patient care calls,” Peers said. “It was great to get real-world experience while still having the coordinators nearby in case I needed advice.”

Peers’ patients ranged in age from 20 to 70 years old and worked as rocket scientists, security personnel, firefighters, and administrative assistants. Many of the patients led very active lifestyles and some of their goals included returning to recreational sports. This was a new population for Peers to work with, as her hands-on experience at Illinois State had been limited to working with 18- to 22-year-old football and baseball players.

“Having to adapt definitely strengthened me as an athletic trainer,” said Peers. “With this new experience, I have more confidence and a skill set that I did not have prior to this internship.”

Peers will be a senior at Illinois State this fall and would like to become a certified and licensed athletic trainer upon graduation. She is interested in pursuing a position in Division I athletics, but this internship has opened her eyes to the possibility of working in a clinic with a specialized patient population.

Peers encourages students looking for internships to think outside of the box. “Find something that will really challenge you,” said Peers. “Look for an opportunity that will give you the most real-time experience in your field of study.”