While some college students spend their summer days basking in the sun, others learn the ropes of the healthcare industry as part of Harvard Children’s Management Internship Program in Boston.
From May to August, selected interns gain technical and qualitative experience in the 347-bed Children’s Hospital Boston, working full-time for $10 to $12.50 an hour. Though a healthcare background is beneficial, undergraduate students with backgrounds in economics, business, psychology and biology are all encouraged to participate in the program.
The program was piloted three years ago in the hospital’s plastic surgery department by administrative director Craig Nesta, MBA, and administrative coordinator Ronald Heald. Now in its fourth year, the program is being managed by the facility’s human resources department and has accepted nearly 70 interns.
When Nesta and Heald blueprinted the program, they looked to “anchor schools” with strong healthcare reputations in the Northeast. Stonehill College, the University of New Hampshire and the University of Connecticut were three primary institutions where they established contacts. “We don’t necessarily place people from 20 different schools, but we do recruit from all over New England,” Nesta says.
The internship serves as a recruiting tool for future hospital employees, Nesta says. Interns offer staffing assistance and vacation coverage during the summer, and the program helps the hospital assess students’ leadership potential. Interns are not given managerial duties, but they learn what it’s like to work in a healthcare environment and handle specific assignments to gain a clearer understanding of office professionalism. Interns learn anything from computer software intricacies to customer service etiquette.
Nesta and Heald tout its capacity to give students a well-rounded learning experience that helps them better themselves not only in a healthcare environment, but also in the classroom. “Programs like this are very interactive and project-based. That’s why so many department chairs are gung-ho about them; they add so much value to the student and to the classroom,” Nesta explains.
The program is also a great honing mechanism for staff members on the cusp of becoming managers, according to Nesta. “It’s a good way for someone to develop and mentor an intern and get experience managing, so when they finally have a group of four or five people to manage, they don’t go into it cold. It’s a total win-win situation.”—Matt Rogers