Internships give students a chance to test their newly acquired skills and knowledge, in addition to opening their eyes to many of the job possibilities within an industry. That’s what Chieng Lor’s internship as the assistant to a department manager at UCare did for him.

Chieng was near the end of his junior year when he realized he needed to get busy looking for an internship to satisfy the requirement for graduating from the University of Minnesota Health Services Management (HSM) Bachelor’s Degree program. He took advantage of several resources offered by the program and found an internship that lived up to his expectations.

Chieng, who plans to graduate in spring 2022, explains how he found his internship, how case studies from class converged with “real life,” and what advice he has for students.

Questions and Answers

How did you find your internship with UCare?

I applied through Handshake [an online career networking platform] and LinkedIn, and answered some job postings that came with our program newsletter. I also attended the HSM Career Fair. I was really looking everywhere and then this one program that I was involved in in high school, Step Up, reached out to me.

Step Up is a partnership of the City of Minneapolis with AchieveMpls, CareerForce Minneapolis, and Project for Pride in Living and connects Minneapolis young people with Twin Cities employers through internships, training, and other opportunities that build careers. Recently, AchieveMpls started a pilot program called Achieve College Internships (ACI), which helps connect college students with internships. I decided to be part of the ACI program and they put me in touch with the hiring team at UCare.

What were you hoping to practice or learn in your internship?

I was hoping to learn about the different roles there are in health care. Even before I was in HSM, all I knew about was doctors, physicians assistants, nurses, dieticians. You know, direct patient care job roles. I had never thought about all the administrator roles or the business roles within health care. Additionally, I wanted to learn more about how business in healthcare works and how it differs from regular business. Lastly, I was also hoping to strengthen my own project management skills and learn what project management is really.

What was your job at UCare?

My official title is project management office intern. I report to the manager of my department and I assist her with the weekly meeting summaries. I also help other managers with their meeting summaries. I use a project management tool called ServiceNow to create tables and charts and produce a polished executive summary and PowerPoint slides of the different meetings.

On a deeper level, I also assist project managers in their projects by meeting business demands that are required for the success of the project itself. This includes reaching out to business owners, sponsors and many more individuals. Overall, my responsibilities range from small tasks to large business dependent tasks at UCare.

How has your experience in the Health Services Management program set you up to succeed in your internship?

The biggest thing is collaboration and teamwork, because HSM classes are all about teamwork. And so with project management, there’s lots of teamwork and communicating with team members. In HSM classes I’ve learned so much. Like how to deal with scheduling conflicts, or communication conflicts, and trying to resolve them.

Another thing is that what we learn in HSM is real-life scenarios. Some of the case studies we had in classes I’ve seen real examples of in my internship. And then it’s like connecting the dots and like, “Wow, this actually happens. What we learn in class actually happens in real life and I’m actually witnessing it.”

What would you say to students exploring their internship options?

One thing I want for students who are exploring their internship opportunities is to just try and apply for it. You won’t get hurt by applying. You’ll be amazed by the doors you open just by simply applying. Your skills are always transferable and you learn as you go. At the end of the day, just try it. Don't forget to take breaks, ask for help. And, lastly, be proud of yourself and how far you've come. You did that! Period.