Elizabeth de Armas is a student at Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson School of Population Health. She interned with Komen Philadelphia for the winter/spring term 2015.
When I decided to pursue a clerkship at Susan G. Komen Philadelphia, I knew it would be a great experience, but my experience has exceeded my expectations to the point that I have decided to stay at the organization as a Grants and Public Policy intern next semester, even though my clerkship is complete. I can’t say enough about the staff at the organization, but especially about my preceptor Carlos who served as a great mentor and allowed me to take the lead and initiative on many of the activities and projects. He always emphasized that he wanted me to leave this clerkship experience with as much knowledge, insight and skills as possible. To do this, he would tell me to pretend that I was in his shoes and he wanted me to take the lead on activities and projects he assigned me in order to really get the experience of what it was like being a Program Director in the field of public health.
At first, I had no idea how to take the lead on initiatives. I continuously asked him questions, second guessed myself, and was many times unsure if I was proceeding with an activity or assigned project the right way. But Carlos would tell me I could do it and eventually, although I still asked him many questions, I felt confident in myself and in my work. Throughout my clerkship experience, Carlos also served as a public health mentor and answered all the questions I had about the field of grant writing, public health careers, interviewing skills, resume writing, and anything else you can think of.
Throughout my clerkship experience, I feel I have acquired several public health competencies and skills. Being part of an organization like Susan G. Komen is such a rewarding experience that has taught me so much about the field of public health, my future as a public health professional, and myself as an individual. I have always been interested in program planning and development as a possible field I would like to pursue upon completing my degree, and the skills I have learned during my clerkship will serve as a strong foundation and backbone throughout my career. Working at a nonprofit organization like Komen Philadelphia can be challenging, stressful and difficult at times. Because there isn’t a big staff, everyone works together and does things outside of their scope including working all events, helping plan events, looking for fundraising opportunities, and community outreach.
But in the end, when you take a step back and look at all the lives you have been able to save and impact as a result of your hard work and dedication, it’s all worth it. I hope to be able to be in a position in the future where I feel I am making a difference and contributing to something greater than myself. That is what every day at Komen Philadelphia felt like, and what I hope will continue to fuel my passion and drive as I begin my career in public health.