What do you do if you’re a bio major who isn’t into blood and guts? Andrea Young, Business Analyst at Kaiser Permanente shares how she uses her knowledge of microlevel diseases to help inform initiatives like improving school lunches and helping people make other healthy choices.
What is your current company name and job title? If you’ve changed titles since you started at your company, what was your job title when you started?
I’m a business analyst now, but I started as a summer intern. I work on a new KP initiative called Thriving Schools promoting workforce health and student-focused initiatives like improving school lunches and increasing opportunities for physical activity.
What is a typical day on the job like for you?
8 a.m. Show up to work (the rest of the team trickles in sometime after 8 but usually before 9:30)
9 a.m. Team check-in with manager and director to provide updates and discuss status on deliverables and prepare for the week (Do we have a meeting with our executive project sponsors? If so, what do we want to take to them, what do we need from them this week to move forward with our work?)
11 a.m. Specific meeting to dive in on a deliverable (we review work to date and discuss next steps for vetting and moving the work along)
12 p.m. Hopefully a fun lunch with a work friend!
3 p.m. Other random weekly calls with cross-functional partners
5 p.m. Catch public transit home
What are your favorite aspects of your job? What are the things you would change if you could?
My team and I work very collaboratively, engaging each other for feedback and opinions. I also enjoy the aspect of my job that enables me to feel that I am affecting someone’s health and wellness.
Things I would change… That’s a tough one… Well, one thing that makes the work hard is that to see health impact takes years. There isn’t instant gratification like in medicine. However, moving the needle on something like childhood obesity is huge, and takes years and years of changing health norms.
What did you study in college? How does your major relate to your current position?
I graduated with a bachelor’s in Biology (Biomedical Sciences) with minors in both Public Health Science and Chemistry.
My major does not directly relate to my current position in that I do not need the cellular and molecular knowledge, nor the biochemical knowledge in my everyday job. However, knowing the microlevel of diseases that are often caused by lifestyle choices gives me a unique position to be able to zoom in on my public health work to really understand how a broad policy change can ultimately affect one’s chance of developing type 2 diabetes, for example.
My minor, public health, directly relates to my position. My position involves focusing on population-based policy and environmental change as a means for impacting health: “making the healthy choice the easy choice” as opposed to individual-based health programs. Additionally, I am able to apply what I learned in health disparities and the public health, socioeconomic model in looking at the health of different Kaiser Permanente service areas and communities.
What advice would you give to college students who are interested in working in your field?
My advice is to start out with an internship and see if this is the work you’re definitely interested in. I think it’s a great field for those of us who are passionate about changing health norms and helping the broader population, without being in a medical facility (I knew I loved health and wellness, but cannot handle blood!). Also, check out different non-profit public health organizations in your community to see if you can talk to someone and conduct informational interviews with folks in the field to determine what sorts of positions are out there and what jobs you might want to pursue.
Does your company hire interns in your field? If so, how would someone go about applying?
Yes, that is how I started out at Kaiser Permanente. For more information, visit the University Relations site.
Homework time! Andrea suggests conducting an informational interview with someone to learn more about a specific field. If you already know someone who’s in a field you’re interested in, ask if you can meet them for coffee. If not, reach out to people you know and see if they know anyone in your desired industry or field.