One of the best things about attending UM SPH is the chance to meet people from all over the world. People come to Michigan with diverse experiences from different regions and cultures. Not me! I’ve lived in Michigan my entire life, and Ann Arbor specifically for the past 9 years. I knew it was time for me to try something new, and a summer internship provided me with the perfect opportunity to do so. When I was offered an internship with the California Family Health Council in Berkeley, California working with their STD program team, I accepted almost immediately.
After the excitement faded away, I started to get nervous. CFHC is a non-profit focusing on sexual and reproductive health, and I didn’t have ANY experience in that area. What if I moved 2,000 miles away and hated it? What if I didn’t have anything to offer the agency? Fortunately, my first day on the job proved otherwise. Everyone at CFHC is really smart and friendly, and I was able to get started right away on my projects.
It’s been two weeks, and so far I’ve learned a lot. I’m by no means an expert on STD programs yet, but I do have quite a bit of experience with program evaluation, so I feel like I am able to contribute quite a bit of useful knowledge and skills while simultaneously gaining experience in a new field. My preceptor is great, too. I have quite a bit of autonomy in designing the program evaluation I’m working on, and she is working hard to make sure this internship is an enriching experience for me. On Wednesday of this week I had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco to meet with a “journal club” composed of experts in the field who meet weekly to discuss current research articles. It was awesome to be in a room full of public health geeks who really know their stuff – but it also showed me how much more I have to learn.
Next week I’ll really start diving into the meat of my projects. At first I was worried about being here for three whole months, but now I’m nervous that I won’t have enough time to finish everything I want to. This will be a busy summer!