- Posted by: RoiAnn Phillips
by Yadira Herrera
Interning at HealthConnect One was a unique, fulfilling and interesting experience. As it was my first interning experience, I didn’t know what to fully expect. In the movies, interns are expected to do the dirty work, get coffee and are not respected. Even though I knew that wasn’t going to be my fate, I was still nervous. Yet, I was surprised that when I came in my first day, it was a light, joyful atmosphere. I personally greeted everybody, and was met with a warm handshake and smile! Everyone’s office door was open, and when we met, they asked me meaningful questions. People even made the effort to stop at my work station and talk with me if we hadn’t met that first day.
As a public health major, I’ve always been intrigued by health promotion ads, and creative ways to frame public health messages for stakeholders and the public. It was my first time using my creativity in a long time and I found it challenging to work that creative side. As a research assistant, I was not used to getting my work reviewed; I usually just collect and submit objective work. Yet, infographics– little did I know– require revisions until they are approved and ready for distribution. I found it encouraging that my supervisor was always extremely helpful and gave clear guidance, all while still letting me figure out my creative process. I didn’t feel pressured and that calmness allowed me to work better and more creatively.
Formatting and designing infographics is a great skill that I will take with me to my next job. Through that skill came a lot of patience, as it takes a while to start and finish an infographic. This internship taught me that it’s important to have unconventional ideas and processes when creating an effective product. As I will work in health promotion in my following job, polishing these skills was a very effective transition. Interning as a Communications Intern has also helped me always think of public health issues and ideas creatively. This creates a unique and different framework that will help keep me “on top” of my game.
The advice I would give to future interns is “don’t be afraid to ask questions” and “don’t let the presence of working professionals intimidate you”. It’s easy to be intimidated by older, professional adults but it’s important to know that they were in our position before. If fear guides you, that fear will only impede productivity, creativity and the ability to connect with others. From my experience at HC One, I learned that people are always willing to help; if it means reviewing an infographic and giving constructive feedback or providing resources for research. Another bit I’d like to share is HC One has a well-connected community and it’s evident that everyone, regardless of the department they’re in, have respect and a great sense of camaraderie with one another. You will always hear laughter! Especially on Fridays!Interning ... helped me always think of public health issues and ideas creatively. This creates a unique and different framework that will help keep me 'on top' of my game. #nonprofitlife #publichealth Click To Tweet
Overall, interning at HealthConnect One has given me a lot of hope for public health. Seeing the moving pieces of the Birth Equity Leadership Academy (BELA) and watching it unfold gives me hope — as a young professional beginning her public health career — that change is possible. Small steps or large steps, it’s inspiring to know that there are great organizations that give voices to the people who have none; who encourage women to be empowered in their journey of motherhood, all while impacting the life course of the babies those mothers are having. Public health has small triumphs here and there and I can say with confidence that HealthConnect One is definitely one of them. I am proud that I spent my semester here and know that I will take this experience and acquired skills with me for many years to come.
Yadira Herrera is a recent UIC public health graduate who is interested in closing health gaps. She’s passionate about food security, nutrition, physical activity and mental health, and spends her weekends working out or picnicking at the lake or at home attempting to make revolutionary recipes. You can reach her on LinkedIn here.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Yadira for your time and insights! To see Yadira’s Q&A with her supervisor, RoiAnn Phillips, click here.