Emma Bloom ’18 – International Medical Aid in Mombasa, Kenya (3/3)

For my last blog, I will speak more about how I found this internship and how the Summer Experience Fund helped me get to Kenya. As a pre-med student with a passion for travel, I knew that I wanted to begin my post-grad career with healthcare experience abroad. However, I quickly came to realize that so many of these programs are overly expensive and oftentimes overtly unethical. I spent weeks and weeks researching various programs, reaching out to participants, and seeking advice from healthcare professionals close to me. International Medical Aid was just what I was looking for—it is a non-profit that reinvests into the communities they serve. I get hands-on experience, but not any more than my experience and education level should allow. Most importantly, IMA addresses the root causes of health issues and gets community leaders involved so that the initiatives we bring are sustainable.

In looking for an internship in any field, it is crucial that you find an organization whose values align with yours. I believe this to be particularly true in healthcare or in any kind of work in vulnerable communities, as these present situations where it is entirely possible to do more harm than good. It is often possible to gather this information from the program’s website, but that is not always the case. I also recommend reaching out to former participants. Never be afraid to reach out to someone who can provide you with an unbiased review of the internship or organization—and they can also help you with tips on what to pack, how to prepare, where to go!

Lastly, internships are a fantastic way to explore possible career options. It is important to be passionate about what you’re doing, but it’s even more important to stay open-minded. In my first ever internship as a college student, I learned that biomedical research (my career goal at the time) was definitely not for me. Now, here in Kenya, I have broadened my passion for and understanding of clinical medicine while also discovering that I want to pursue public health as well.

While internships are a crucial part of higher education and ultimately establishing a career path, they are often a large financial burden. Skidmore’s Summer Experience Fund made this incredible opportunity a possibility for me and I highly recommend applying. The funding I received made it possible for me to cultivate my existing interests, and also gave me the exposure I needed to so much more. There are many opportunities to receive this kind of funding—as long as you can effectively voice your passions and curiosities and plan accordingly!

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