Successful entrepreneurs tap into it. Harvard business grads hear it over and over. Diversity enriches the workplace and makes good organizations better.
That’s a big reason why MeHAF was excited to welcome two summer interns from the Daniel Hanley Center for Health Leadership into our ranks. We’re a pretty ‘seasoned’ crew, so having the input of two 20-somethings from early June through late August cast a new light on our work.
Planning for their arrival, everyone at MeHAF was asked to think about how an extra set of hands or a fresh set of eyes might be deployed on current or new projects. We began by identifying some of those nagging projects that, while important, never seem to rise to the top of our priority lists. Each of MeHAF’s ten staff members carved out time for lunch or a walk with the interns at least once over the 12 weeks of the program.
For the students, interning at MeHAF gave them an opportunity to develop new skills and gain some real world experience while building both their resumes and their professional networks - something that wouldn’t necessarily be the case if they’d worked the summer as a camp counselor or server at a restaurant.
The interns worked through a substantial and varied list of activities that involved researching and compiling information, updating resources and lists, generating new materials (like our very first infographic), participating in and taking notes at grantee site visits, and assisting with preparations for meetings- all valuable activities that emphasized the contributions that a motivated and bright college student could make.
Judging from the unanimously positive feedback from staff, we will look for an opportunity to host interns again in the future and encourage other health organizations to consider it as well. Although we used the Hanley Undergraduate Internship program to connect with interested undergraduate students, there are a number of other programs that link students with workplace opportunities beyond just the summer. These include community-based learning and internship programs such as the ones offered at the University of Southern Maine Office of Engaged Learning. Many Maine colleges are looking for community partners willing to offer an internship for academic credit during the school year at both the graduate and undergraduate level. I encourage health organizations to explore all the options. It’s been a great experience for us.
Madeleine Daily will be starting her junior year at Bowdoin College this September.
Shelby Chouinard is a 2014 graduate of the University of Maine/Farmington with a B.S. in Rehabilitation Services and an aspiring grantwriter.
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