THE HOD “DAY IN THE LIFE” FEATURES STUDENTS WHO HAVE COMPLETED THE HOD INTERNSHIP AND THEN SHARE WORDS OF WISDOM TO ILLUMINATE THEIR EXPERIENCES. THIS WEEK HIGHLIGHTS THE STORY OF SYDNEY LARSEN, A SENIOR WHO INTERNED AT INTERFAITH DENTAL CLINIC IN NASHVILLE DURING THE FALL OF 2016.
Internship Site: Interfaith Dental Clinic
What was the highlight of your experience (i.e. projects you worked on, people you met, events you attended)?
This internship gave me the chance to gain an in-depth view into all of the hard work that goes into running a healthcare-oriented non-profit organization. Working on projects for the Education Center and Development teams allowed me to cultivate new skills in Excel and graphic design, but my favorite experience by far was that involving the people that Interfaith serves. Although it was a small job, I was assigned the task of calling to inform clients that they were accepted into the comprehensive care program. Hearing the excitement and joy in many of their voices really solidified the importance of the work that Interfaith does, and reinforced my own desire to pursue involvement in the nonprofit sector of dentistry someday.
How does the HOD capstone internship compare to other internships you have had?
As a pre-health student, it is often difficult to find internships outside of the research world, as healthcare positions require a great deal of training and qualification. Participating in the HOD Internship gave me an incredibly unique opportunity to be in a healthcare setting for over 30 hours a week, something that few other pre-dental students get to do. While my time was divided between clinical observation and projects for the Education and Development teams, this experience provided in-depth shadowing experience, something that is vital for anyone pursuing dentistry. The wide variety of care that Interfaith offers gave me the chance to observe everything from simple cleanings, all the way to IV-sedated oral surgery. Additionally the internship coursework gave me the chance to focus on learning more about the challenges and opportunities of the industry and gain valuable mentors.
How do you think you have grown as a professional (i.e. skills, learning to receive feedback, professionalism tips)?
I think one of the most valuable parts of this internship was simply getting used to a “real adult” schedule and workload. Learning to balance work with the demands of coursework and life, thought difficult at first, was great practice for life after graduation.
What are the top 3 pieces of advice you would recommend for the internship search process?
- Start early! Even if you are still far away from your internship, start researching and actively seeking out organizations you think you might be interested in, make some contacts, and get your foot in the door. That will make the search process much less stressful.
- Stay in your industry! This may be an unpopular opinion, but don’t use this internship as a chance to try something new or explore your far-fetched “dream job.” When it comes down to the reality of it, thirty-two hours a week is a very long time to spend doing something that you are only mildly interested in. Additionally, this is a wonderful chance to get experience and recognition within your industry, as many organizations are very enthusiastic about hiring an almost full time worker at no cost.
- Cast a wide net. Even if you have one specific organization in mind, send out as many applications and resumes as soon as you can. Just in case things don’t work out, you will be thankful to have backups.
Why did you choose your site for your internship?
As a pre-dental HOD student (probably the only one), my choice was very straightforward. I came across Interfaith fairly early on during my sophomore year and was immediately drawn to their mission and the unique structure of the organization. Nonprofit dentistry is what I hope to do in the future, so it was very lucky that I was able to find such a perfect fit.
How will this internship impact your future (i.e. change career, landed a job)?
This internship has only reinforced and expanded my desire to pursue nonprofit dentistry. Additionally it has made me aware of Interfaith’s Advanced Education in General Dentistry residency, something that I would love to explore after my time in dental school. My time at Interfaith gave me the chance to start to create a network of dental professionals in the Nashville community, something that could be very useful in the upcoming years.