This is the last week of my summer internship with Fit NOLA of the New Orleans Health Department. While it’s the end of my summer with Fit NOLA, I will continue interning with the organization during the Fall semester, just with limited hours. I’ve learned a ton about the way public health progress actually occurs, especially in a unique city like New Orleans. Most of this is due to my supervisor treating me as an (almost) equal, and allowing me to tag along to any meeting she went to, or listen and participate in any conference call she scheduled. My internship also allowed me a good amount of freedom, in which I got to pursue topics of my own interest in relation to Fit NOLA, so I could always find something to do and contribute to, even when the workload for the day was light.
I would say that I definitely accomplished my four objectives. My first objective was to “acquire specific knowledge about public health organizations and how they function in New Orleans, including governmental organizations (like the health department) and non-profit organizations. “ I gained this understanding by attending so many meetings with different organizations, since Fit NOLA is actually a partnership/collaborative effort of many health-oriented organizations in New Orleans. I was exposed to many types of businesses organizations and began to understand the differences in interactions with each of them. For example, the health department runs on a very bureaucratic level (meaning it takes a while to get anything approved, and many levels of people must approve everything before a final decision can be made). However, smaller non-profits do not operate in this way, making it easier to make quick changes by collaborating with them.
My second objective was “to acquire the professional skills, including etiquette and interpersonal skills, needed to work effectively in a professional, governmental work environment”. Through this internship, I definitely began to understand the way the hierarchy works in the health department. Through this understanding, I was able to act appropriately and behave professionally, but I was also able to have less formal relationships with co-workers and my supervisor.
For my third learning objective I wanted to “learn more information about how to establish public health campaigns among certain populations”. Because my supervisor allowed me to pursue some of my own interests as part of my internship, I helped create a breast feeding and early childhood health campaign that Fit NOLA will use to apply for funding through a public health initiative. I learned about the challenges in creating a campaign that will be both successful and accepted among the general population, especially when it comes to more controversial topics, like breastfeeding.
Part of my social media breastfeeding campaign:
My final learning objective was to “cultivate good relationships with the public health department’s partners, so as to create connections and learning opportunities to have available after I graduate.” I was definitely able to complete this learning objective, considering that Fit NOLA is a collective impact model that requires the participation and communication with all of its partners. I was required to constantly communicate and meet with these partners, which allowed me to form relationships outside of the staff of Fit NOLA and the health department.
My internship with Fit NOLA provided me with a new perspective on working the public health field in the government sector. I know that my responsibilities will continue to grow as Fit NOLA grows, and I am excited to see what comes next!
Click here to see the newsletter that I designed: http://clicks.skem1.com/preview/?c=15553&g=16537&p=5698111a9fa8275c086f0c196e4bce12
Until next time,