I’ve always been interested in communications, but for what might be considered an atypical reason. What interests me about communications is the role it plays in promoting science (and math and engineering and all my other geeky little interests)!  One of the main reasons I applied for the Karel Fellowship was to develop stronger communication skills to help scientists, mathematicians and doctors better communicate the results of their work. That is to say, I think knowledge is most helpful when it’s communicated in simple terms so that the average person can actually understand what breakthroughs are being made and what that means for them. I’m not the most skilled communicator around, but I try to break away from the stereotype that those whose interests and/or careers are deeply steeped in STEM don’t know how to talk to people or effectively communicate.

When I found out I was matched with Trust For America’s Health (TFAH), I was thrilled!  TFAH compiles reports on issues relating to public health such as obesity, the opioid epidemic, and natural disasters, meaning I get to work with a lot of data. During the first hour at work, you can find me reading articles on anything ranging from public health policy to the state of obesity in America to the results of new medical treatments for chronic diseases.  And for the rest of the day I’m working with TFAH’s public affairs/communications department, mostly under the research analysts who analyze the data used in TFAH’s reports.

My first few days as a Karel Fellow and an intern at TFAH were a little difficult.  You see, before applying to be a Karel Fellow, I had absolutely no idea what public interest communications even was.  So, starting work at TFAH and going through the communications boot camp was much like throwing me off the deep end of the pool in order to teach me how to swim—except I didn’t even known the pool existed until I got tossed into the water. The learning curve has been steep, but so far, I’ve managed to keep my head above water and figured out how to breathe.

My time as a Karel Fellow has been filled with invaluable moments and learning opportunities, and I can already tell that the remaining weeks will be just as fruitful. I’m really glad to have pushed myself out of my comfort zone during this internship. These past couple of weeks have really shown me the importance of public interest communications, especially when mixed with my own interests and skills. I’m really grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given to participate in the Karel Fellowship; it’s been an extraordinary, eye-opening experience into the world of communications.