Ramping Up Internship Efforts

Internships play a crucial role in the education of Health Services Management (HSM) students. These experiences give practical application to the ideas, concepts, and issues discussed in the classroom, better equipping students for the job market while simultaneously helping them discern what area of health care they prefer to work in.

In order to better serve its students in terms of finding a beneficial internship, the HSM program has added a new cofaculty member, Dr. Lynn Kiehne, who will be assisting HSM Faculty Director Sue McClernon, in the placement of HSM students in internships that fit student ambition. Dr. Kiehne has more than 38 years of experience in the health care industry, and is passionate about health care administration and academic health care.

We sat down with Dr. Kiehne to learn a little more about the importance of internships today.  

Lynn Kiehne

CCE: First of all, how are you helping HSM students find internships?

LK: Well, students start by building resumes. Then they identify their top three choices of the type of place they’d like to work and write out “interest statements” for each, detailing why they chose that type of work or place. At that point, the students are ready to do a one-on-one Google Chat meeting with me or Sue McClernon.

These students are early in their careers, so they’re not sure yet where they want to go in health care. So part of my job during these conversations is to find out what each student is passionate about, which class has spoken to them the most, so I can get some glimmer of what might feed their soul.

I’ve done 30 of these Google Chat meetings in the last three weeks, and each one gives me a sense of what the student is looking for in his or her internship. Sue and I use information from these interviews to align students with great internship placements—these are internship opportunities that we have already developed or are currently developing in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro Area and beyond. Sue and I both have a strong knowledge of the area, and can easily network with executives and organizations to develop internship opportunities. In addition, the HSM Advisory Board has been invaluable in connecting us with organizations and placement opportunities as well.

CCE: Talk to us about the HSM program and the importance of doing an internship.

LK: I’ve worked in other places with courses in health care administration, but not one has the internship course and requirement that the HSM program has. And I can tell you that this internship piece is really important. Most kids come out of school with their four-year degree and yet they have little or no work experience. That makes it hard to get your first job.

With an internship, you learn the lingo of the industry and a place. You learn how an organization functions, and when students return for their senior year in the HSM program, they bring with them practical knowledge, not just textbook knowledge.

CCE: Why do internships matter?

LK: Imagine a young, aspiring glass blower. That glass blower doesn’t just say she’s going out into the world to start blowing glass. No—she does an apprenticeship first to learn the fine art of glassblowing. Internships are the modern-day apprenticeships.

The important reason for doing an internship is the exposure students get. They live the experience and they see what it takes to succeed. Some may feel validated in the type and place of internship they chose, while maybe others realize that they’d rather work in a different area of health care. Either way, internships help students to better define the parts of the job the like and what they are passionate about or not. It’s really a jumpstart for the career path.

CCE: What do you love about your job, assisting with placing students in internships?

LK: It’s the giving back that makes this job so rewarding. I’m giving back and serving by helping these students find their beginning path into health services management as a career. I can also point students in various directions to read something or gain more information about a given subject. I’ve got a huge repertoire of resources and contacts developed over the years.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the lightbulbs go on once the students are in their internships, getting excited about what they’re learning and applying it in solving business challenges that help their organization as well.

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