The Growing Industry of Healthcare Communications

By Katie Franck

What is healthcare communications?

Healthcare communications is a fast-growing industry with many opportunities.  According to the Institute for Healthcare Communications (IHC), “Patients’ perceptions of the quality of the healthcare they received are highly dependent on the quality of their interactions with their healthcare clinician and team.”  Healthcare communications can take many forms, from educating healthcare professionals on how to effectively communicate with their patients, to advising a pharmaceutical company on how to communicate drug prices to the public.

Why is it so important?

According to Elizabeth Comtois at FleishmanHillard, healthcare communications is crucial for patients and members of the healthcare system.  As a healthcare communications professional, you may consult with a hospital or drug company to help them identify their message and get it out to the right audience.  Clearly communicating a hospital’s message can greatly reduce the risk of misunderstandings between healthcare companies and their patients, and provide the public with valuable information.

What can I do now to be competitive for a career in healthcare communications?

The best thing to do now is to get involved on campus!  If you are specifically interested in healthcare communications, joining both communications organizations and health-related organizations can give you valuable experience that future employers will appreciate.  Additionally, look for healthcare communications internships! Many PR firms have healthcare clients, so asking to help with those accounts can be a great way to get your foot in the door.

If you think healthcare communications may be right for you, I encourage you to check out the IHC website, which has lots of great information about the field.  


One Team, One Goal – Reaching Out to Elon Alumni

By Katie Franck

Elon alumni can be an extremely valuable resource for as you look to expand your professional network or seek advice from someone who has “been through it all.”  However, it can be extremely tricky to figure out how to approach an alum… where do you find them and what do you say? LinkedIn is one of the best ways to connect with alumni.  When you form a connection with an alumni on LinkedIn, you can (and should) send them a message introducing yourself and asking if they would be willing to talk with you for about 5 to 10 minutes.  This is a good way to ask ask questions about their company or learn about their experience. Some Elon alumni have even designated themselves as “Elon Mentors”, which simply means they have chosen to be a resource for you and are ready and able to help.  

Communications alum Zach Bocian ‘17 said that the motto “one team, one goal” is “very applicable to life after college and more so in staying connected with alumni and present students.”  If you don’t already have a LinkedIn account or if you are unsure how to use it, this article can provide some excellent tips and guidelines to creating a noteworthy profile.  

So you’ve searched LinkedIn and found some alumni who you’d like to reach out to… now what?  Always start by introducing yourself and telling the person why you want to connect with them.  Just like with other social media platforms, if someone requests to follow you, you’re immediately going to look for the “Elon University” on their profile or some other factor you have in common before you follow them back.  A simple way to message someone may be,

“Hi Nicole!

I see that we both attend(ed) Elon University and that you currently work in PR.  I am a current student and PR is my intended field, I would love to connect with you to learn more about your experience. Thanks so much!

Katie Franck, Elon University Class of 2022”

If you have specific questions, use your initial connection to ask if they would be willing to answer them.  Additionally, this article has some great advice and templates for how to write an appropriate message to anyone you may want to connect with, alumni or not. 

When messaging alumni (or any professional) it is important to remember that they are busy and may not be checking their LinkedIn account on a regular basis.  Always be patient, and you can send a follow-up message. As always, professional language is expected and appreciated, and you should always keep in mind that they are taking time out of their day to help you.  While most Elon alumni (especially Elon Mentors) are excited and willing to talk with students, you should always thank them for their time and for any help they give you.

Good luck!

A Story: Successfully Networking

Internships are about learning, networking and great experiences. Jillian Jacobson, who is interning in Maine this winter is taking full advantage of every opportunity.

She recently attended the Maine Biz Forum as part of her internship with Spurwink, a nationally accredited non-profit with behavioral health and education services for children, adolescents, adults & families. While networking may be difficult, Jillian took a courageous step in setting herself apart from the rest. Just by asking a question, she was able to start conversations and successfully network. This is what Jillian had to say about her experience at the Maine Biz Forum.

“I was able to network with lots of professionals in the industry and make some connections. Attendees ranged from business professionals to communications professionals in Maine. The speaker was an economist from The Fed who spoke about economic predictions in the next year. The panel then spoke about how this could impact their local businesses in Maine. There was also a Q&A section and so I went up the microphone in front of 300+ people and introduced myself and asked why I should get my first job in Maine after graduation. The room seemed to be very impressed by my question as I was given many business cards after and many people came up and talked to me. It was a great experience even though I was intimidated being the youngest one there by many years.”

Networking paid off for Jillian because she stepped out of her comfort zone and took a chance!


Staying Organized: How to Make the Application Process Less Stressful

By Natalie Wright

Keep a Spreadsheet

When applying for internships, you will find yourself completing a handful of applications, communicating to a lot of new people, and setting/meeting a crazy amount of deadlines. This can all be hard to remember, if you don’t keep a record of it all. I recommend that you keep an Excel document or Google Sheet that can hold this information. You should keep track of the company name, application link, deadline for application, contact person, and additional  information such as notes from follow-up conversations. Here is an example:

natalie bp pic

By keeping a spreadsheet like this, you will be better organized and less stressful during the application process because all information will be in one designated location.

Keep a Running List of Skillsets

During the application process it is also important to keep a running list of your personal, unique skillsets. This will be helpful during interviews because future employers are interested in learning more about you, and they want to know what makes you different from other applicants. With a running list, you can always add to it, and it will make you more confident when stepping into an interview.

Balancing Mental Health While Interning

By Gabrielle Beamon

For some students, internships can be overwhelming, but there are ways to manage any internship stress.

Also, remember, your supervisor may have been an intern and is there for you every step of the way. The days can be long and filled with numerous responsibilities, and you’re going to get drained. Here are a few things I like to remember when my internship starts to get overwhelming:

  1. Don’t take work home.

You’re an intern, and most likely not being paid. No one is expecting you to bring work home, so don’t do it! Your time after work is exactly that, YOUR time. Watch a movie. Read a book. Go to the gym. You have the entire rest of your career to bring work home, so take these precious moments to do something for yourself.

  1. Ask for help.

You’re new, and you’re learning. Take in everything that this industry has to offer. If you don’t understand something or you’re feeling overwhelmed, ASK YOUR SUPERVISOR for help! They are in your corner and want you to succeed. It’s okay to ask for assistance.  Also, don’t be afraid to take notes. This ensures you stay on task and complete projects correctly.

  1. Talk to the other interns.

Chances are you aren’t alone in your experience. One of the best ways to boost morale is by talking to other people. If you are struggling, chances are another intern is, too. You’ll make a new friend and probably a really strong professional connection.

As someone who has interned in both New York and Los Angeles, it became overwhelming very quickly. Reaching out to others, asking for help and making time to explore allowed me to have the best experience as an intern.

Networking with LinkedIn

By Arielle Berlinksy

Applying to internships and jobs can be easily quite stressful and overwhelming. At times, you will catch yourself wondering where to even begin. One thing I can recommend is LinkedIn. Starting a profile is super easy to do! Plus, it’s like filling out a fun quiz that is all about the subject you know most about…YOU! Before you know it, you will be able to build up a network quite simply by adding professors, internship co-workers and more. Also, don’t forget to join professional groups on LinkedIn and you can connect with their members. Then, you can put up a copy of your resume and any relevant information about your latest activities for everyone to see. Companies also search LinkedIn for students who match their interests and needs.  On top of all of this, you have the privilege to network with people in companies all over the world! Plus, now you can connect with alumni who want to help you. Networking is a huge key to getting your foot in the door for that dream position, so why not start today? You are just a few clicks away from starting the path towards your dream career. Good luck!

Why Diversity in Communications Matters

By Janay Tyson

Growing up, I was always fascinated with pop culture and the influence that celebrities, actors and entertainers had on the world. I loved seeing images of the lavish lives they lived and the opportunities they could have because of their craft. Yet, the older I got, I realized that there weren’t many individuals that looked like me through various forms of media. If there were people of color represented, they played typecast roles or were portrayed in a negative light and didn’t seem to get the promotions that their white counterparts did. Representation in media matters because with the changing world that we live in, the content we create, who we portray and how, must reflect the population and the diverse individuals that live within it.

In an article named, “The Media’s Lack of Diversity and Why It Matters to You,” written by Michael Nam, he explains how detrimental the lack of diversity in media can be in shaping the opinions of society. Not only are the images we see on television and what is being said about certain groups and communities affect how we view them, but also perceptions of ourselves. A 2012 study done by CNN “showed that self-esteem among white boys increased while that of white girls and Black children in general decreased with consumption of television media.” A lack of representative diversity can deeply affect ambitions and aspirations of the underrepresented from an early age.” The content that the media chooses to broadcast has a very influential role in how younger generations and people of color view themselves.

How does this fit into your position as an intern or when finding an internship you ask? I believe diversity is a key component to any successful workplace environment. When looking for internships, research the company’s leadership and values to see if they align with a perspective that reflects diversity in thought and background. Also, if you are a student of color, apply to any and all internships because the more representation they have, the more voices are in the room that otherwise might have been there before. While working at my internship this past summer, I made it a point to always speak up in meetings or bring up points that I didn’t think were noticed or mentioned due to working in a mainly white-dominated office. During my time, I found that my input was appreciated and well-received because I brought a conversation to the table that was not considered before. I completed various projects that enabled me to make an impact on the staff and company in hopes of diversifying their brand and messaging. My advice for any student would be to make your voice heard and don’t be afraid to ask questions or challenge opinions when working for an internship because supervisors actually enjoy when you speak up; it shows you’re paying attention and using critical thinking skills on the job.

Representation matters because our world is changing at a rapid pace and all people deserve to have positive images of themselves in the news stories we read, shows we watch, companies where we work, or music we listen to. “Globally, individuals on average spent 456.1 minutes each day consuming media last year,” said Rani Molla, a writer for Recode, a technology news website, and “Mobile internet consumption accounted for 19 percent of all global media consumption last year.” Because media is how we gain most information about the world, it’s time we start looking at the ways we describe and portray women, children and minorities who are most affected by this. We must move away from discriminatory hiring practices, generate news that doesn’t highlight crime or other negative acts and diversify our casts lists and the roles actors/actresses are given to play. Society is becoming more multicultural every day and because of this, our world and the media will have to follow suit.