Samhita Sen, Marketing Executive based in Berkeley, US, shares her experience as a two-time intern at Avalere Health and what she’s taking forward with her into a full-time role on the team.
What prompted you to pursue this opportunity?
Prior to my summer internship, I was a student at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), double majoring in communications/media studies and sociology, unsure which career path to pursue. An internship seemed like the best place to begin understanding available roles and to find the best fit for me.
My experience prior to this opportunity spanned copywriting, marketing, production, and social media—largely in the media and publishing industries. I was looking for a change but wasn’t sure where to find it until I came across Avalere Health’s job listing for a Copy Intern on LinkedIn. I hadn’t considered healthcare marketing as an industry where my skills would be a good fit until I started researching the role and the company. I found Avalere Health’s emphasis on making better health happen by improving the lives of patients sincere, and the focus on life-saving drugs and therapies intriguing, so I was excited to join a team of passionate creatives!
What was the hiring process like?
As someone who enjoys a challenge, one of my part-time jobs was to help teach an introductory computer science class at UCB. Working in a field that isn’t my primary interest, particularly with so much technical jargon, offers a lot of learning experiences. So when I came across Avalere Health’s job post for a Copy Intern through my search for copywriting opportunities on the West Coast, I was immediately intrigued. An entirely new industry certainly posed a challenge, so I applied and was thrilled to pick up the phone a week later to chat with a recruiter for the role. I also submitted several writing samples (that weren’t related to healthcare marketing but felt confident in the quality of my writing). Through to the final interview, I was nervous but determined, and put completely at ease by my future manager’s humor and easy conversation. I remember calling the recruiter I was in contact with right after the interview to let her know it went well, and within 48 hours, had an offer I couldn’t refuse.
Part of my copy internship over the summer involved writing for the social media team. From my first meeting with the team, I felt like a valued member of the group—my ideas and feedback were considered from day one, and I knew I wanted to continue working with the team if the opportunity arose. With this conviction in mind, I approached the marketing and corporate communications team and requested the opportunity to take part in another internship continuing into my final semester at university as I was keen to continue working on social media and marketing.
I became the precedent—and now that both my internships with Avalere Health have come to an end, I’m pleased to join the team full time in my new role as Marketing Executive.
What did you know about Avalere Health before joining, and how did this change by the end of your internship?
I knew Avalere Health was a global company that worked in the healthcare communications space, but I had very little idea of what that truly meant. My mind went to writing the pamphlets you might read at your dentist’s office—and while that’s certainly within the realm of what the company does, I now know they also accomplish so much more. Every person I have spoken with in the organization has voiced their appreciation of Avalere Health’s inclusive values and policies, along with their choice of clients. Whether it’s rare disease or oncology, the company always works on products and portfolios with a scope for making better health happen. As a student still figuring out what I wanted to do, I was also delighted to find that employees are truly given time for personal and professional development within the company, getting their hands on projects they are passionate about, and adjusting their place in the organization as they figure out what sparks joy through the career experience platform Fuel50.
What have been the highlights so far?
Over the summer, I spent a good portion of my days working on a mock client project involving rebranding a product with my cohort of interns, culminating in a presentation to several leaders within the organization. Aside from our project, my fellow interns and I were able to bond over our hobbies, from exchanging recipes to appreciating art, making our work sessions a highlight every week. Another highlight were the informal and informational sessions with my manager over the summer, where he gave us a quick overview of specific topics, from potential career paths in the industry and best practices when making a portfolio to in-depth guides around concepting, writing manuscripts, and more. These sessions offered a wealth of knowledge, support, and guidance, not only for our roles as interns but for our future careers.
During my time later as a Social Media Intern, my highlights included seeing my copywriting through to publishing on our social channels and daily catchups with my new manager to stay closely connected while working remotely between London and California across an 8-hour time difference. Having a hand in so many different areas within the group, I was exposed to social media and marketing from a perspective I’d never seen before. Joining the organization without a scientific background, it has also been incredibly rewarding to see my work improve as I learn more about the industry and develop a greater understanding of Avalere Health’s capabilities. I was also impressed by the people-centric focus embedded throughout the culture and work within the organization.
What are the key learnings from your internship experience?
You don’t need to come from a healthcare background to work at Avalere Health. I’ve learned so much in my 2 internships that I could not have anticipated: From social media analytics to medical jargon, to working effectively in a team—there is something new to tackle every day.
Social media planning is an asset that I will take with me throughout my career. The invaluable copywriting lessons I’ve learned over the course of my internships have also helped me write more concise and compelling copy. I’m taking away a great deal of confidence in my work, the value of my time, and my enhanced ability to provide constructive insights and feedback.
What is it like doing an internship virtually?
Having never worked in a true office environment before, I was excited for the internship regardless of the worksite. If anything, operating virtually made it much more interesting when I eventually met a few of my co-workers in person and realized some were not as tall as their camera angles led me to believe.
With regular meetings, check-ins, or work sessions every day, I never felt alone over the course of the 7 months. The summer internship was a collaborative experience with the other interns and, although my manager and I were separated by an ocean during my time as a Social Media Intern, I was supported and mentored around the clock by team members across the globe.
Do you have any advice for future interns?
Don’t worry too much about your previous experience—you bring a lot more to the job than what a single sheet of paper says about you. With that said, apply yourself. You will grow so much on the job if you’re open to it.
Finally, ask questions: When you’re unsure, ask for clarification because believe me, you’ll need it. Approach people and ask about what they do, what inspires them about their job, and how they learned to do what they do. Everyone is so eager to help and share knowledge—that is a huge asset when trying to figure out what you want to pursue and to better understand the organization you’re working for, including the people who may soon be your colleagues.
The learning curve is steep, but you’ll surprise yourself one day when you realize you know what you’re talking about!
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