One young health care communications professional shares her experience combining two passions--business and health care--to great effect both in college and beyond.
When I chose to pursue an undergraduate education at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts, I knew that I wanted to go into business. In order to meet people and get involved on campus, I attended the activities fair as soon as I arrived in the fall of 2006. At the fair, I was introduced to a group called Up ’til Dawn, which is the collegiate-level fundraiser to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The premise of the group is that “no child should die in the dawn of life,” so college students would gather for a late night of letter sending to raise funds for children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. Right away, I knew that I wanted to stay involved with this organization and to help support St. Jude’s lifesaving mission in any way that I could. It was during my experiences with Up ’til Dawn that I first realized I wanted health care to be a part of my professional future.
During my sophomore year, Bentley implemented its Liberal Studies Major (LSM) program. The LSM is an optional double major program that is paired with a primary major in a business discipline, providing students with the opportunity to make connections across courses relevant to their chosen concentration. I viewed the LSM as a great chance for me to specialize in a particular field of interest, and to differentiate myself from my peers as we all prepared to enter a tough job market and economy.
Lucky for me, one of the new LSMs was Health & Industry, a concentration that allows students to explore the broad implications of health from a core course in human biology through its multifaceted applications to individuals, industry, and society. The Marketing/Health & Industry double major allowed me to continue to pursue my passion for business, while also exploring scientific and humanistic aspects of human biology, psychology, health, and disease. I was mixing business with health care!
In order to better prepare myself to enter the workforce upon graduation, I knew it would be necessary to obtain as much hands-on industry experience as possible. During my junior and senior years, I was a special events/marketing intern for various health care organizations, including nonprofit charities St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and The ALS Association—MA Chapter, as well as boutique geriatric care management firm AZA Care Management and Home Care. I also stayed heavily involved with Up ’til Dawn on campus and was the Executive Director of the board during my junior and senior years. I am proud to say that throughout my four years at Bentley, I helped to raise more than $200,000 for the kids at St. Jude. Given these valuable experiences and the strong demand for health care workers with a background in business, I had no trouble finding a full-time job in health care marketing and communications during the summer after graduation. I have no doubt that my health care and business double major helped give me a leg up over the competition.
As a recent college graduate working in health care, I found myself seeking ways to get more involved in the local health care scene. I came across a networking event held by the Boston Young Healthcare Professionals (BYHP) in early 2011. I attended the event and had the pleasure of meeting some of the founding board members of the group, as well as young health care professionals just like me, who lived and worked in the Boston area. I quickly became attracted to this group and knew that I wanted to be a part of its strong and important mission.
When I learned that the group was recruiting committee chair members to support the executive board, I jumped at the opportunity to support the group from a health care marketing and communications perspective. Today, along with founding board member Marisa Levine, I am responsible for developing and executing the organization’s marketing strategy. I also focus on facilitating inbound and outbound communication of the group, including developing BYHP’s quarterly newsletter and working with media influencers and local health care icons.
My advice to recent graduates entering the workforce is to always keep your networking hat on. You never know where a connection might lead. There is a strong demand for health care professionals with various backgrounds—from business to clinical to nonprofit. Find what you love in life, whether it’s health care and business or teaching and global sustainability. Then, put yourself out there and network with groups like BYHP. Find the professional path that makes you happy and run with it!