Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pre-internship tips

Writing these entries would be easier if I could have done it as I went along. But since we only started these blogs more than halfway through our internships, I’m not sure whether I should jump back and talk about the beginning of the internship, or just write about what’s going on now.

I think that I’ll do a middle ground: I’ll do some earlier events and some current events. So let’s start with earlier events. Pre-internship, even! Some tips before you begin your internship:

1 month before your internship: Email your supervisor and ask if there’s anything you need to prepare for before your internship. (If you don’t know your supervisor, contact the recruiter and find out who it will be. If it’s still unassigned, ask your recruiter for any preparation tips.)

2 weeks before your internship: Start learning about your industry. (Really, you should start far before 2 weeks, but let’s be serious – finals are coming up, you’re looking for housing, you have to write 20-page papers for Stats 3 with Professor Tsai, etc.) Familiarize yourself with what the healthcare industry is. A good resource is the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation site, which gives great short articles on the basics of healthcare. Another good site is the Healthcare Blog, which gives up-to-the-minute updates on healthcare news.

And if you’re going into the healthcare side of the insurance industry, know what insurance is. Know the difference between a PPO and an HMO – at least. This is what everyone says. But note – I knew the difference between the two, so I thought I would hit the ground running with my internship. Ha! From day 1, I immediately saw that the insurance industry is incredibly complex – amazingly so. If you can, learn more about the insurance industry so you can easily say things like “capitation” and “DMHC” without batting an eye.

1 week before your internship: Contact your supervisor again with a quick note that lets them know you’re excited to start working, and update them on any preparation you’ve done. Ask about the dress code.

So, this is what you should do in theory. But what actually happened with me?

Well, I did email my supervisor a week before my internship to see if I needed to do anything. But I was woefully lacking in the other aspects. But other than that, in hindsight, I should have spent more time learning about the insurance industry (as I was already pretty familiar with healthcare). That way, my first week wouldn’t have been spent trying to find glossaries for terms and abbreviations that I didn’t understand. Oh well.

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