Interview with Joey Wetmore (HB&S '13)

Joey Wetmore interned with the UCLA Multiple Sclerosis Achievement Center (MSAC) as part of his Human Biology & Society (B.S.) major. He is also a Public Health minor and plans on graduating in June of 2013.  Read more here


Center for Community Learning (CCL): How did you land your internship?

JW: An internship or research position is one of the requirements for the Human Biology & Society major and I wanted gain experience in the working world rather than in the lab, so I chose to do an internship. The HBS department provided a list of internships approved for the course, and working at the MSAC jumped out at me because my grandfather had MS. A short application and brief interview followed and I was accepted to the position.

CCL: Did you face any unexpected challenges during the quarter? What advice would you give to other undergraduates looking for a good internship experience?

JW: For my particular internship the most challenging aspect was jumping through all the hoops the UCLA Health System requires to work in a setting like the MSAC. Medical records, HIPPA and abuse reporting certifications, and a Live Scan background check all needed to be completed prior to beginning the internship. Other such internships in the medical field are likely to have similar requirements, so I would recommend getting an early start on those things as it was a time consuming process.

CCL: How has your internship helped shape your career goals?

JW: My internship at the MSAC has really helped to solidify my goal of going into healthcare policy and management after graduation. Working with the patients can be really inspiring, but the experiences that stand out to me are their many difficulties obtaining adequate care for their condition, and the motivation that gives me to help reform the healthcare system to better serve everyone. Working in this field had interested me for a while, but working as a part of it through the internship really helped turn that interest into a career path.

CCL: What skills did you learn on the job that go above and beyond what you have learned in your college courses?

JW: Working at the MSAC allowed me to practice skills in working and communicating with people of various ages and stages of disease, and in working as part of a team of care providers. Neither of these environments really exist in the undergraduate classroom and it was great to be in a setting where I could learn new skills that are valuable in the workplace.

CCL: What were the benefits of taking a 195CE course through the Center for Community Learning? What did you learn by meeting with a coordinator and pairing your internship with academic research?

JW: Taking a 195CE course with the CCL really allowed me to expand on many of the different ideas and situations which came up over the course of my internship. If something crossed my mind while on site, I could elaborate and learn from that experience even more by discussing it with my coordinator. Pairing ork at the MSAC with the guidance of a coordinator and my own personal research gave me the opportunity to delve deeper into the root causes and difficulties that come along with a disease like Multiple Sclerosis, and to relate that new knowledge to other similar treatment methods for various other diseases.

CCL: How has your internship helped refine your understanding of civic engagement and/or your sense of UCLA’s partnerships with the communities of Los Angeles?

JW: Taking part in this internship has opened my eyes to the many possibilities students have to participate in civic engagement throughout Los Angeles. LA is a hugely diverse and exciting community with great opportunities for any student and where everyone can find something to passionately contribute to. While I feel that UCLA’s partnerships with the community are relatively weak compared to what they could be, the 195CE course is a step in the right direction in terms of allowing students to actively participate in the community around them, while still earning academic credit.

CCL: Anything else you want to share? Anecdotes from your experience? Advice for other students?

JW: I would strongly encourage any student who can fit a 195CE course into their schedule to do so, for several reasons: Firstly, in my job search experience for a career after graduation, my internship work has been the topic of far more interview questions than any typical class. Secondly, because the internship in conjunction with the course counts for units, it allows you to still maintain a normal unit load during the quarter without being overwhelmed trying to do both separately. Finally, the open ended research paper really allows you to expand on an idea that interests you, and to explore your career direction in greater depth.

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