Internships offer students opportunities to gain professional work experience before graduation

Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: May 12, 2011

After hearing first hand from education students about their internship experiences at Texas A&M University, Kathy Denton ’82 recognized an opportunity — one that would help both fellow Aggies and cancer survivors.

“The students were excited they were able to help their respective organizations and realized the difference their professional connections made on their careers,” she says, “so establishing an internship to benefit our patients and Aggie students made sense.”So Kathy, education manager at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, established the hospital’s Cancer Survivorship Program.

Rose Annie Trevino, who graduated in 2009 with a degree in health, was the first cancer survivorship intern. “I wanted to do my internship at MD Anderson because I had heard so many great things about the institution,” Rose Annie says. “Cancer had recently affected my family, and I wanted to make a difference in this area.”

Cancer survivorship interns are responsible for drafting the individualized comprehensive care summaries for each patient. These Patient Passport Plans for Health are then used by patients and health care providers to manage post-treatment care, such as diagnosis, treatments, screening and preventive care recommendations, and referrals. Rose Annie says the passport empowered patients to be active participants in managing their care and gave her hands-on experience.

“One of the benefits of the internship was the opportunity to network with other professionals, which helped me get my first job,” Rose Annie says.

A variety of semester-long internships like Rose Annie’s are available for education students in a number of industries.

“Internships provide opportunities for applied learning, practical experience and invaluable networking,” says Ann Gundy, clinical associate professor of human resource development and undergraduate program chair. “And, in today’s marketplace, new graduates are better positioned for employment after completing an internship.”

Several organizations have standing requests for interns, but some students create their own opportunities.

“We surround students with resources to help them research possible internship opportunities,” Ann says. “It is important that students work in areas that are of interest to them. Although not guaranteed, it is not unusual for internships to lead to permanent employment.”

Jacklyn Flores ’10, a human resource development major who also interned at MD Anderson, was hired by the cancer center as a clinical data abstractor after graduation.

“I didn’t get the morning coffee, pick up lunch or file mounds of paper,” Jacklyn says. “I was treated like a professional who had real work to do and deadlines to meet.”

Now, Jacklyn is in a position to help fellow Aggies.

“I have truly come full circle since my internship. I first learned about the theories in my undergraduate classes, then I experienced them first hand as an intern, and now I help educate and guide a new group of cancer survivorship interns,” she says.