By Briana Rossi
When I first declared Biology as my major, I had no idea what I wanted to do, just that I liked the subject and knew it was broad enough that I would have a variety of career options. There are quite an assortment of fields within Biology and the curriculum at UP gives you a great introduction to many of them. By my junior year I developed a better understanding of my strengths and decided to direct them toward the field of Public Health. Public Health is a field that works to monitor the health of communities, find ways to prevent illness, and improve treatment methods. I knew that this was the field that I wanted to pursue, but found myself stuck on how to move forward with getting experience. UP unfortunately does not offer classes focused on Public Health so I knew that I would have to look elsewhere for this experience.
I did a lot of research online trying to get an idea of organizations, programs, and career opportunities within the Public Health field. I ended up scheduling an internship search appointment with the Career Center and with their help I was able to connect with a UP alumna working as a research assistant at Oregon Health and Sciences University who was looking for an intern. Their area of research was a great fit with my previous experiences so I was very excited about the opportunity. After applying, I was offered the position and excitedly accepted.
I have been interning in the Public Health and Preventive Medicine Department at Oregon Health and Sciences University for the majority of this school year. I work mainly in a team composed of a primary investigator, her two research assistants, and another intern. The primary investigator does research on opioid addiction and ways to improve the treatment of behavioral health through translational research. We are partnered with the Northwest Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network and many other local and national hospitals and organizations. The work encompasses a variety of fields within health, but deals especially with Psychology, Biology, and Health Administration.
My job as an intern is to work alongside the research assistants on grant funded projects. I have gained research experience through my coursework, but this opportunity has helped me to gain a better understanding of how to apply what I have learned outside of my classes. On a day to day basis I help the research assistants with their tasks including literature and grant searching, attending trainings, and watching webinars on the most current developments and challenges in the field along with some admin work. The most beneficial parts of my internship are that I am getting hands on experience with all different stages of the research process, have access to resources of an established research university, and am making great connections within the field that I am interested in, definitely fulfilling that experience I couldn’t find at UP.
My internship is unpaid and I chose to not do it for academic credit since I have completed all the necessary credits required to graduate. Since I am not receiving compensation, I made it my focus to learn concrete skills and make connections that will help me in my professional development, and that strategy has worked really well. OHSU, like many organizations, primarily hires internally and once you have your foot in the door so many opportunities open. I make sure to work hard each time I go in to the office and it has paid off. I was given an honorarium for the work I have completed and was also offered a position for after graduation. I am very excited to continue to work with this team and as an employee I will be responsible for my own project allowing me to continue developing those important connections within Public Health. I am choosing to delay going to grad school for a few years in order to continue gaining experience and I know that this internship opportunity has set me on the right track to be a competitive applicant as well as have working knowledge of the field.
Looking for summer internships? Check out UP College Central Network for current postings!