An Intern's Reflection

Molly Small
April 3, 2017
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During my time in Ireland, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work as an intern at an anonymous Digital Healthcare startup. The company offers an interactive digital platform for patients suffering from a range of mental health problems. This comes at a time when those seeking treatment are faced by daunting variables; a shortage of clinicians, long waiting periods between time seen and time treated, and the cost of traditional health care may all be impediments that would interfere with a person who needs to receive some type of therapy.

My initial infatuation with this startup came when I began to understand its marriage of mental healthcare and technology. Although my educational background is in technology, I try to limit my digital consumption in the form of social media; I only have a Facebook as a means of keeping in touch with friends and family who I do not see on a regular basis. I think as someone in the field of technology, I am wary of how it can be abused and often consumes those who are not vigilant of this potential for abuse. I believe that we have so much power to improve the world, and our efforts could be channelled towards these types of causes. I preach that we should try very hard to steer clear of distractions like the number of “likes” our photo receives.

Mental health is something that I feel very strongly about, as I have a history of major depression and anxiety. Before being diagnosed and receiving such life-altering treatment, I never knew what I would possibly be able to accomplish that could intimately touch the lives of other people who may be suffering. I have since learned that speaking publicly about mental illness is one of the most influential things I could be doing, as I would possibly not be here without those who spoke publicly about it before me. Passing up an opportunity to work at a start-up whose mission I feel so passionately about was not something I was willing to do; I was determined to solidify an internship position with company, while also fulfilling my goal of taking on more challenging technological tasks.

During my time as an intern this semester, I have been a witness to many people doing work that they truly love. Of course, not every day will be sexy or glamorous, but no one ever seemed to mind coming into work. This is something of which I admire because I am very terrified by the idea of dedicating forty or more hours every week to something that I do not thoroughly enjoy. At the unnamed startup, while everyone in the office takes their work very seriously, they understand the importance of life outside of work. In the United States, oftentimes life is consumed by work, willingly or unwillingly. I am sure that this happens in Ireland, but working simply to grow your social status or because you receive a big paycheck is not something that I have experienced while working with the people at this organization. They seem to truly love the humanitarianism that accompanies the business, while also valuing their lives outside of work. I see this as such a beautiful balance. I am a strong proponent of work not having to being a chore. We have so little time, so if we are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to pursue something that is fulfilling, there should be no reason not to do it.

Because I am so impressed by the work that has been done while simultaneously maintaining integrity and advocating for the treatment of mental illness, I have been inspired to search for more internships and jobs with companies that are founded on a similar kind of empathy. I feel very strongly about the use of technology to contribute to humanitarianism and sustainability, so I am currently pursuing summer internships at start-ups that desire to help people or the planet. I feel like I have been spoiled interning at **********.

I no longer have any desire to work any traditionally corporate job or work somewhere prestigious simply for the satisfaction of status or success. I want to remain in the start-up world, and I feel like I can only work with a company who is doing something to contribute to the greater good. I sometimes feel like the more experiences I have, the more aware I am of what I dislike and the less I know about what I am supposed to do with the rest of my life. I leave more confused about my future than when I first arrived.

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Molly Small

<p>I&rsquo;m currently a junior at the University of Pittsburgh studying Information Science. I also plan to graduate with a Legal Studies minor and a Latin American studies certificate which is evidence that my curiosity is always being pulled in chaotically amazing directions. I would like to consider myself a cooking, hiking, and gardening aficionado. I believe in empathy, vegetarianism, and girl power.</p>

2017 Spring
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Information Systems
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