It’s never too early to start networking. That’s one of the key lessons Ross Manderscheid, Business Operations Analyst at Kaiser Permanente learned when he was still in college. One connection he made during his on-campus job as a tour guide led to a business operations analyst internship, and eventually his current role in the IT department. He talks about his career path and shares his strategies for standing out as an intern.
What is a typical day on the job like for you?
8 – 9 a.m. Review of new emails and baseline planning of my day’s work. I focus on what is needed immediately and what I can progress for more long-term projects.
10 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Mixture of meetings and periods of work. Covering Chief of Staff Office projects, coordination of IMG Executive Meeting presentation materials, organizing headcount report updates, and finding a moment to review current articles related to Health Care and IT. (Lately focusing on Health Insurance Exchanges and reform).
12 – 12:30 p.m. Lunch
12:30 – 5 p.m. Facilitating any new requests that come up in the Chief of Staff Office, progression of aforementioned projects, and more meetings. Depending on the time of year, I could be reviewing applications for our SOX policy compliance, working on Disaster Recovery management, or any Chief of Staff Office item that has a focus at that point.
My schedule is often quite dynamic. There are some standard projects I work on routinely, but a large portion of my time is dedicated to understanding and solving new problems as they arise.
What are your favorite aspects of your job?
The aspects of my job I enjoy are the voice I have on my work, continually learning about the ever-changing health care environment, and seeing how to plan and organize such a large infrastructure from a Chief of Staff Office perspective.
Currently, there is a strong demand for new talent in the industry. Fortunately, this is an opportunity Kaiser Permanente is accommodating with our Intern Program. I think it brings a wealth of opportunity and potential not only to the organization, but to the interns that apply and are brought on.
What did you study in college? How does your major relate to your current position?
I studied Management Information Systems (MIS) in college and did this primarily due to its applicability to business. This degree had a focus of bringing technology to the field of business to solve complex business problems. I think this ties directly into the work we are doing at Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser Permanente has a strong focus on the inclusion of technology into health care and business. I now help support the infrastructure of this business model and see first-hand the changes coming to improve the way health care is delivered. It is a model I feel fortunate to enjoy and support first-hand.
What advice would you give to college students who are interested in working in your field?
Growing up, I valued not only completing a task, but finding ways it could be done again with ease or efficiency. I think this is an idea Management Information Systems truly stands behind in the way we learned to use collaborative tools and other technologies to improve the work we all do. As a Business Operations Analyst now, I look at other ways to improve performance, reporting, and displaying messages and information effectively through a number of tools. So overall, my advice would be to go solve a problem, then develop a way to continually solve that problem where it becomes easy and repeatable to a wide audience. I think that is a skill with great value and is the crux of my field.
Does your company hire interns in your field? If so, how would someone go about applying?
Kaiser Permanente has a great intern program that does include positions in my work area as well as a number of others.
The best way to learn more about this program is to visit the Kaiser Permanente University Relations page.
From there, interns can apply through our job portal and search for positions by career area, location, and a number of other search parameters.
I encourage everyone interested in Kaiser Permanente to read about the program itself as it is not a standard job. There are commitments to group projects outside of your specific job, job shadowing opportunities, field trips to facilities working on the future of health care, and more. It is a rich program which I value and completely support.
What was your experience like as an intern at Kaiser Permanente?
In my junior year of college at Washington State University, I helped facilitate tours for prospective students. This turned out to be a great networking experience. I met someone who worked at Kaiser Permanente and talked about the work he did. When I explained my background and what I was studying, he mentioned that Kaiser Permanente has 6,000 people on its IT staff. I was really interested, so I followed up and we stayed in touch. I ended up applying for the business analyst internship because it tied closely to what I did in school. From there I was connected with the person who ended up being my current manager.
The intern program is very positive, engaging, and social. In fact, I’m still very close with a number of my fellow interns, many of them on a daily basis. One of the best things was that I never really felt like an intern. I had true control and say in my work. Now that I’m full-time it’s evolved a bit in that it’s more of a hands-on role. But the fact that you have the opportunity to work on such a range of projects (including some outside of your field), meet with high-level execs, and really refine your business sense makes this experience unique.
I didn’t have a background in health care; I was just eager. That is one of the great pieces of the program—you’re given projects you’re unfamiliar with and given the opportunity to learn about every aspect of them.
My philosophy when I was an intern was to just make myself as useful as possible to as wide a variety of people and projects as I could. This meant that when I was up for a position, many of the people interviewing me had actually headed up some of the projects I was participating in, and that certainly helped to extend my internship and with the eventual creation of the position that I hold now.
Homework time! Ross talks about making himself as useful as possible and getting involved in a wide variety of projects during his internship. If you’re currently an intern, look for (or create) an opportunity to get involved with a cross-departmental project. It’ll give you opportunities to meet more people and learn more about the organization. If you’re not an intern, think about how you could apply this strategy to your current job or studies.