I am currently working at The Health Center, a local nonprofit that runs school based health clinics in four Walla Walla public schools. I’m certainly not the first Whittie to be interning at this organization and that’s for a good reason. I, along with so many other Whitties, found out the amazing work that this non-profit has been doing in our community and hoped I could help. The Health Center is a school based health center that provides primary health and behavioral health care for all students, although they primarily are there for students without access to other outside services. The nonprofit started at Lincoln High School only 9 years ago and has been growing ever since. In 2012, The Health Center was able to open a second clinic at Blue Ridge Elementary. Thanks to increased community support, grants, and the support of Walla Walla Public Schools, The Health Center has been able to expand to Pioneer Middle School, HeadStart/ECEAP Preschool, and is opening another clinic this fall at WaHi. When The Health Center started, it was able to provide services to around 200 Lincoln high school students. This fall, The Health Center will be able to provide services to over 3000 students from all ages.
This rapid expansion has been fantastic for students in Walla Walla, but it’s clearly been hard to keep up with for the directors of The Health Center. They have had to focus on hiring medical staff, mental health counselors, and care coordinators in order to continue expanding, leaving little time or financial resources to hiring administrators. The number of administrators has remained the same since 2008, even with three more clinics and locations to manage. This is where my internship comes in. My goal for this internship was to do any projects or tasks for Stan (the Executive Director) or Renee (Director of Clinics) that would otherwise take time away from focusing on the more important aspects of running the nonprofit. I figured if I got some business experience along the way, that would be great too. So far, I have done everything from creating a new brochure to researching new file sharing and cloud storage solutions to creating a Back to School donation campaign. Pretty much whatever they need done on that day, I am there to help.
If any future Whittie is reading this and considering working for The Health Center, I would thoroughly recommend it. Stan and Renee have been gracious enough to allow me to sit in and participate in all aspects of managing these clinics, from meeting with principals, to participating in board meetings, to working with a public relations expert to create a new communications strategy. Working at a small non-profit is not just beneficial to the community, but I actually learned way more in this internship, then I have in past Internships at large companies. In a small nonprofit, they are much more willing to give you important and meaningful work because they frankly can’t afford to have interns who are not making large positive impacts on the organization.
Experiences like Cillian’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Victoria Wolff.