GCSW clinical student, Ceejay Blake (they/them) wants to make an impact by facilitating empowerment and providing coping strategies in the lives of those who have gone through exploitation and incarceration. Thanks to the connection through Practicum Agency Marketplace, Blake was placed at A 2nd Cup for their practicum, an opportunity that has led to a fulfilling and life-changing experience.
“I have found the perfect way to blend all my previous work and experiences. I have been able to do a lot of reflective self-work, learn through all the training provided, and face many things I have been too busy to realize were affecting me. I love that even though I am clinical track, I can blend macro work as well into a mezzo vibe,” Blake said.
Working directly with overcomers and survivors of Human Trafficking, they currently oversee the Brazen Table program and provide case management at A 2nd Cup, Houston’s only non-profit coffee shop that works to end human trafficking by “raising awareness, providing economic empowerment, and building partnerships.”
“Brazen Table provides holistic culinary and job skills training to folks whose paths have been interrupted by trauma. Through hands-on work, fair wages, economic empowerment workshops, and a supportive, caring workplace, they provide pathways to dignified employment so all may live free and find work on their terms,” Blake said.
They were placed at A 2nd Cup after attending last year’s virtual Marketplace; a structured and competitive interviewing/ preference process that connects students to affiliated agencies that have openings for Macro or Clinical concentration placements inside the Greater Houston Area.
“Marketplace allowed me the opportunity to talk with different agencies and ask direct questions such as "what work or programs do you provide that actively use anti-racist practices?" and "how do they bring inclusivity into the agency culture, programming, and mindset," Blake said. “I was particular about where I would like to give my time to, making sure it didn't contribute to a significant industrial complex . . . I also wanted a placement that allowed me to work with diverse populations and demographics and make a direct change.”
Advanced or concentration level GCSW students participate in Marketplace, which will be held this year on Friday March 3. The open-house style virtual process allows students to choose the agencies they visit. Around 200 students participate each year, and will all students matching with an agency. Online students participate in a Distance Process to secure an opportunity in their local area. This year 90-100 agencies are scheduled to participate.
To students participating in Marketplace, Blake shares the following advice, “research the organization you want to work for and ensure it aligns with your personal and professional values. Feel free to be direct, self-advocate, and ask questions to ensure this is where you want to be and give your time. Not only are you interviewing for placement in the agency, but you are also interviewing the agency itself–remember that they need you. You bring your own unique experiences and background.”