Week one? Check!

Week one? Check!


Last week was the first full week of my new internship and all I can say right now is how grateful I am to have been placed in such a perfect organization. The office staff was so welcoming and the environment in which we work would please anyone. This is definitely going to be the best summer ever.


To reiterate, I am a "Clinical Public Health Intern" in the office of Office of Clinical Public Health in the Office of Public Health in the Veterans Health Administration of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Wow. Yeah, that’s been my biggest struggle. The organizational charts at this place are works of art! Soon, I’ll know who works where and who’s who’s supervisor. But for now, I just need to remember where my cubical is.


Because we don’t learn anything about the Department of Veterans Affairs in school, I spent the first week getting to know this organization. I will say, that when I was offered the internship I was timid (unlike me) because of the politics and ethics that are attached to war. After all, I'm working for veterans now. But after this week, I've come to learn not to be timid and rather excited to do what I love, help people. I needed to learn that the VA is here to help veterans. They’re not here to deploy soldiers or provide more ammunition. They’re here to make sure life at home is perfect for those that give the ultimate sacrifice..and I like that.


It’s odd coming from (my previous internships) a hospital group where my team was five people large. Then to a county health department where there are four (FOUR!) employees in health promotion/health education. Now, I'm here at this enormous governmental organization and it’s a bit overwhelming at first.  Some interns are working at small offices, art galleries or law offices with few staff members and some interns are working in large offices like the State Department or the Department of Justice. Every intern is different but we all are fortunate to have been given this opportunity, large or small.


The Advice

I do have a few pieces of advice from this first week to keep in mind from here on out. I found this article tweeted by The Washington Center. The title of the bullets are the same, the explanations are my own!


Remember that you’re here to learn: Your supervisor will teach you a lot. Everyone’s teaching style is different and if your supervisor has a tone to their voice that doesn’t match your kindergarten teacher, you’re not doing anything wrong. This is the real deal and it’s time to throw away the rainbows and gummy bears. We are becoming professionals and we have to pay very close attention to those who are here to teach us.

Don’t be annoying: I sometimes think I need to work on this. Simply put, don’t be obnoxious.

Act Professional: Easy, right? In a world constantly connected to Twitter and Facebook it’s hard to put down our HTC EVO 4G LTEs (just saying). Most of the time, we are working with more experienced people in our office who aren’t used to and simply don’t care for social media and cell phones. Just save it for lunch.


A couple of my personal points:

Do your work. A task is given to you, do it. I’ve been in a lot of positions in my life (I sound old) and the number one thing I have learned is do your work efficiently and to the best of your ability. You supervisor will help you make it perfect

Don’t excessively apologize. I learned the hard way but I'm glad I did. Saying “sorry” excessively, really brings down your professionalism and credibility. You’ll know when you have to apologize.

Bring your lunch. This place is too expensive to be eating out every day. But the food is so good…


Throughout the summer I will be working on infection, hand hygiene, women’s health and influenza programming with our nation’s largest healthcare system. Honestly, how much better can it get. I cannot wait to put this one on my resume. Here’s a shout-out to my awesome supervisor, Troy! Excited to see where the summer takes us.


Until next time…and happy 21st birthday to me!!


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