My name is Jyotica Barrio. I am a senior, and one of the Spring 2015 Internship Grant holders. I work at the Walla Walla Community Health Department, which is the health department for Walla Walla County. The work I do for the Health Department is a great introduction to the career field I am interested in post-graduation: public health. I am building upon existing and gaining new experience in community-based research and outreach, which are essential skills for public health.
My internship is self-developed. I contacted the supervisor of a previous Whitman student intern, and we worked together to figure out a place that fit well for us both. Last semester, I worked primarily with the department- and community-run Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) coalition. HEAL’s mission is to support, encourage, and inspire a culture surrounding healthy living throughout the county. My primary responsibilities included researching and adding content to the coalition’s website in order to get it off the ground. This semester, I have continued to keep the website updated with seasonal and other new, relevant information.
However, my main responsibility this semester is a different project. The Health Department has a resource guide available on their website. This guide includes all programs and services offered throughout Walla Walla County, and its purpose consists of a single guide for human service providers. My primary task is to reach out and contact each organization listed in the guide for updated information for the 2015-2017 version of the resource guide.
While some may find such a task menial and boring, such community-based outreach is necessary for most community-wide organizations for a variety of reasons. Thus, the opportunity to hone my outreach skills is much appreciated as such skills will be necessary for almost any job or position I hold in the future (especially as a soon-to-graduate senior!).
The past seven months I have spent with the Health Department have been amazing and crucial. I have been able to experience the many sides of working for a non-profit, government organization in the career field I am interested in pursuing. As I am graduating in a little less than one month, this experience is crucial not only in giving me experience, but also in determining my next steps into the ‘real world’ after Whitman.
For those of you interested in public health, community outreach, research, marketing, web design, and more, this is an amazing place to intern. They are always in need of help, and are flexible in helping you create an internship that suits your personal internship goals. There are ongoing projects, new projects, and projects waiting for someone to start them. The people there are incredibly supportive and encouraging. I highly recommend the Health Department as a place for many internship opportunities.