“Health care, and especially health services management, is dynamic because it’s fueled by technology and ethics and people. It’s very multidisciplinary and active,” says Belinda Kaneza, recent graduate of the Health Services Management (HSM) undergraduate degree program. “That checks all my boxes: It’s important; it’s timely; it’s critical to life.”
For as long as she can remember, Kaneza has been passionate about the subjects of health and medicine. She planned to become a doctor, but two years into her studies she realized she preferred to work a little more behind the scenes on the health care stage, and her interests pivoted to health services management. She discovered the U of M’s HSM major and dove into it headfirst.
“I knew that business was something I could do, and I liked the courses covered in the program—economics, policy, quality, ethics, delivery systems. I thought, Okay, cool; these are things I want to know about,” Kaneza says.
By the end of her two years in the HSM program, one of her final courses—her capstone—would land her a full-time job, launching her career in the health care industry.
An HSM capstone course is challenging, to say the least. Students are assigned to a small group, and each group is then paired with a health care company. The students’ job over the course of their final semester is to solve a problem for that organization, calling on all the coursework they’ve had in previous semesters.
Kaneza and her group paired with Anthem, Inc., a health insurance company. A representative from Anthem’s HR department explained that the company was looking to enhance the organization’s brand recognition within the Twin Cities area as a leading employer choice. It was Kaneza and her team’s job to come up with recommendations on how Anthem might achieve that goal.
The students began researching Anthem. Kaneza was her group’s unofficial leader, serving as the point person for Anthem’s HR representative, too. She guided her group toward a list of recommendations, which they presented to Anthem’s President and executive leadership team.
“Our challenge was kind of marketing-oriented, so that was difficult, but we were able to put together a presentation that Anthem liked,” Kaneza says. “One of our recommendations was for Anthem to attract a younger demographic of employees by attending college career fairs and networking events. We also presented about social media and creating an internship program.”
HSM Capstone Instructor Geoff Kaufmann says, “Belinda's approach to the project distinguished her as insightful about how to provide recommendations that would inspire the Anthem leadership. That drive propelled her to go above and beyond what might have passed as a good effort. I could tell by listening to her that her commitment to find workable solutions was not just a task but an effort to really change the way that Anthem sought out talent. I expect continued great things from Belinda.”
Kaneza and her team left quite an impression on the rest of their panel of listeners, as well. “They were definitely pleased with our suggestions,” Kaneza says. “One of the big recommendations was getting young people to do internships with Anthem. The company is doing that now and thinking about continuing it moving forward.”
A Job Offer
With her capstone presentation and the commencement ceremony behind her, Kaneza began applying for jobs. She still had an internship requirement to fulfill for the HSM program, but she hoped to complete that over the summer. One day, as she was turning over these thoughts in her mind, she received a call from the Director of Quality at Anthem.
“He said he’d heard my capstone presentation and was impressed,” Kaneza says. “He said there was an opening in the Quality Assurance Department at Anthem, and he thought I’d be a good fit.”
“Everything I’ll be doing will be a challenge. But I’m not nervous—I feel prepared for this, thanks to everything I’ve studied up to this point.”
In a whirlwind, Kaneza was brought for interviews into Anthem’s headquarters for its vision and dental insurance coverage, based in Mendota Heights. She walked away with a job offer to be a Quality Specialist for Anthem.
“I’d already done so much research on the company, so I had confidence that I knew who I’d be working for,” Kaneza says. “I wasn’t diving into a deep, scary ocean. I knew what I was doing, so I accepted the offer.”
Kaneza is fulfilling her internship requirements through Anthem while concurrently working full-time. She’s staying busy shadowing her colleagues and learning about data, documentation, and Anthem’s strategy for quality assurance.
“The beauty of my position is that it’s really new,” she says. “Everything I’ll be doing will be a challenge. But I’m not nervous—I feel prepared for this, thanks to everything I’ve studied up to this point.”
As it turned out, Kaneza had left out one key hiring recommendation in her capstone project for Anthem: to hire HSM graduates. Through the strength of her presentation, however, the company came to that conclusion on its own.