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Study abroad internship strengthens healthcare career options

As Alexandra Snyder entered West Virginia University, she had visions of becoming a physical or occupational therapist. “After a few months I wasn’t positive if that was the correct path for me, so I began looking into other majors. The health and well-being program began accepting students my sophomore year. I switched to this major because of the many professional opportunities this program offers,” she said. Snyder, from Hollidaysburg, Pa., added a minor in health promotion to her portfolio.

“This major has taught me about people's overall health and how to be effective as a worker in the healthcare setting. Those two things were essential since I have always been interested in health and helping others through community service.”

Prior to her senior year, Snyder worked with the WVU Office of Global Affairs to identify internship opportunities. After being accepted into the intern group she received approval to complete her capstone early while she was abroad. “I worked at Cancer Trials Ireland, the leading clinical trial organization in Ireland,” she said.

“Over the course of my eight-week internship I was tasked with general administration duties and quality checking serious adverse effect reports. I helped prepare, archive and review previous in-house trial studies.”

The capstone experience offered Snyder new skills and knowledge. “Cancer Trials Ireland is a non-profit organization. It gave me insight as to the environment I want to work for in the pharmaceutical industry,” she said.

“On top of gaining more professionalism throughout my time I was learning how to run successful trials and reading through a lot of research. I believe that having a more in-depth knowledge of what makes a clinical trial successful will help me be a strong candidate to potential employers.”

Initially, Snyder did not have real life learning in a position related to her career goals. She says her summer internship helped grow as an applicant, as well as personally. “The people who worked with me at Cancer Trials Ireland were kind, smart and caring, making the internship a positive experience. Plus, I was able to travel the world,” she said.

Snyder plans to graduate in spring 2023. She says her HWB coursework has helped her learn that she appreciates the communication side of health more than the science component. “Initially, I considered graduate school, but I have decided against it at this time and plan on looking for a job,” she said. “I want to explore opportunities as a pharmaceutical sales representative, or something similar.”

“Studying overseas has also helped me experience another culture and learn more about their health care system. After spending eight weeks abroad I feel confident in my ability to relocate for a job.”

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