This success story is part of a series profiling people who leveraged their college internship experience into a full-time job. This interview features Rabia H. Mir, a public health professional.
Rabia, what college did you attend?
The George Washington University, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, DC
What year did you graduate from college?
Undergraduate: 2006; Master of Public Health: 2008
Where did you complete an internship?
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of National Institutes of Health
How did you find/land your internship?
Dr. Rachel Permuth-Levine of NHLBI sent out a e-mail over a listserv I was a part of and I was intrigued by her work in employee wellness. I e-mailed her asking her if I could complete my practicum requirement for my MPH degree with her, without compensation. She called me the same day and had me come on board less than a week later.
What type of work did you do during your internship?
– Created a strategic, social marketing and health communications plan to improve the health and wellness of employees; the plan was accepted for funding and used as a recruitment and retention tool.
– Recruited partners and created large scale health-initiatives such as health fairs, lectures, and fitness festivals.
– Created an e-newsletter about physical activity for NHLBI employees.
– Authored an article about employee wellness initiatives for publication in the NIH Record.
I also received an “Intern of the Year” Award.
What was one significant thing you learned about working during your internship?
In addition to learning working etiquette and gaining federal government experience, I learned how to be a good employee. The best part of my internship was my mentor, Dr. Permuth-Levine. I became more ambitious as I saw how accomplished she was at such a young age. I admired her ability to perform stellar work in the office and be a good mother, wife, and friend at the same time. She had an amazing work-life balance. I also enjoyed watching her speak at various events and push her creative ideas. She allowed me to work from home almost every day, as she trusted me to complete my assignments. She was more outcome-focused than hours-focused. This made me a more efficient worker, as opposed to the common employee who dilly-dallies at work for some time. She also gave me something not everyone gets: opportunity. She never questioned my age or experience. She put faith in me to handle big projects, which made me work harder and allowed me to shine at the end. Because I admired her as an employee and person, I worked extremely hard to not disappoint her. This internship made me into a very hardworking, ambitious, and confident employee.
How did your internship lead to a job offer?
Along with the above question, Dr. Permuth-Levine was instrumental in helping me to succeed. She was so impressed with my work as an intern that she hired me as a paid consultant to do more work for NIH. After completing the allotted number of hours, she guided me through the job application process, reviewing my resume and giving me tips on interviewing. She even called up a few employers for me and served as a wonderful reference.
I had two job offers in my e-mail within two weeks and Dr. Permuth-Levine helped me evaluate my options. After my potential employer spoke to Dr. Permuth-Levine as a reference, the employer raised the offer by over $5k.
This employer was a federal contracting company. A year later, I joined another company that was very impressed with how much professional experience I had at such a young age and with my professional demeanor at the interview.
Any words of wisdom you would like to share with current college students?
Be an opportunist! Research every opportunity that comes your way and take every chance because you never know what can come out of it. And stay confident – you may be young and you may be inexperienced, but that does not mean you can’t accomplish the same things as your superiors. Keep your head up, smile, and complete every task like it’s your best.
Thank you, Rabia, for sharing your experience and advice.