Kelsey Johnson
Class: Junior
Major: Health care management
Hometown: Stockton, N.J.

When Kelsey Johnson was looking to transfer from Raritan Valley Community College, she eyed Rider University because of its reputation for personal attention and professional opportunities.

She immediately took advantage of what the University had to offer. Johnson interned with the New Jersey Department of Human Services in December of 2015, which led to a part-time position as a financial analyst trainee at the Department. She also recently visited the White House because of her part in a challenge an effort to make local communities aware of healthcare’s importance to young adults and the economy.

When were you employed at your internship?
I started my internship at the New Jersey Department of Human services in December of 2015. I worked under the CFO of the department and the assistant CFO. I completed an unpaid research internship over the period of the JTerm [Rider's three-week winter term] to fulfill a major requirement. However, once the JTerm came to an end, I was offered a part-time position at the Department and have been working there since. I am now a financial analyst trainee and I am happy to say I have just completed my first year of working at the Department.

Why did you choose Rider?
I chose Rider for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, I really wanted to attend a school where all of my professors would be able to know me personally. I liked the fact that the class sizes were so small because it would allow me to develop good relationships with my classmates as well as with the professors.

I also felt that I would be given more opportunities because Rider is a smaller University in an ideal location. I had heard from students when I toured Rider that professors and faculty were extremely helpful in providing opportunities for their students. I was also made aware of the many services Rider offered to their students in terms of academic help, internship or co-op preparedness, as well as other career services.

How was the process transferring into Rider?
Rider made the transfer process extremely easy for me. After applying, I heard back from Rider within weeks and was able to start planning. All of my credits were transferred and I was able to meet with a transfer advisor to discuss how my credits would transfer over. I also received assistance signing up for classes, which eased the stress of figuring out what classes I needed to take.

How did your classroom learning (or specific classes) help you at your internship?
As a healthcare management major, I have taken many classes that I have found helpful in my internship. Some of these classes include “Introduction to the Healthcare Sector” as well as “Healthcare Finance." An important aspect of my job is to have a good understanding of health insurance, particularly government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The classes offered by Rider have given me a deep knowledge of these programs which has been extremely helpful in understanding the jargon that is used daily in my job.

The professors in my major are extremely knowledgeable in the field and have first-hand experience in the healthcare sector. My professor for “Introduction to the Healthcare Sector” actually worked for my current boss at the Department, prior to working at Rider. It was a wonderful coincidence that allowed me to view this professor as a mentor when I first began my internship.

How did your internship impact your career goals?
My internship at the New Jersey Department of Human Services has reaffirmed my passion for healthcare and has allowed me to see the many avenues that my major can take me. When I originally began studying my major, I saw myself working for a healthcare facility rather than a government office. However, after interning at the Department for over a year, I can see myself pursuing a career in the government sector. I have found that working for the Department has been extremely rewarding because I feel that I am able to make a direct impact on the citizens of New Jersey.

How did your Rider faculty assist you with your internship?
Rider faculty assisted me in many ways with my internship. My previous advisor, Dr. Kelly Noonan, helped arrange my interview for the internship because she knew my boss. She also made the effort to check in on me periodically to see how my internship was going and provide insight. My new advisor, Dr. Hope Corman, has continued to check in on me and provide feedback in regards to any questions I may have or advice I may need. Career Development and Success at Rider also helped to prepare me for my internship by reviewing my resume and providing a mock interview.

How did the internship enhance what you learned at Rider?
My internship at DHS has improved my educational experience at Rider because it provides me with a way to apply what I am learning in the classroom to a real-world situation. In my internship, I research, collect and analyze information related to programs such as Medicare and Medicaid in the state of New Jersey. It has been a valuable experience to me because I feel that the findings in my research will be able to help others and can be important for the future of these programs in New Jersey. Going forward, I feel that the more healthcare management classes I take the more prepared I will continue to be for my internship.

Were you surprised by anything you experienced in your internship?
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of responsibility I was given right off the bat and the large variation of jobs I was offered. I have had countless amounts of opportunities and have even been given the chance to travel as part of my job in order to take part in a series of face-to-face interviews for my research. I have also been given the responsibility of working with several high-level officials in the Department, which also surprised me. I was extremely surprised when I was given my part-time job at the Department as well. I went into my boss’s office thinking he was going to review a project I had been working on, but instead, he asked if I would want to work there. That was definitely one of the most surprising things that has happened to me thus far.

What advice would you give your peers when searching for an internship?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to professors and advisors for internship advice or to see if they know of any places that would be a good fit for you in terms of an internship or co-op. Rider faculty are truly some of the most valuable resources when it comes to knowledge about the workplace. Professors and advisors at Rider are dedicated to seeing their students succeed not only in the classroom but through real work experiences such as internships and co-ops. Advisors and professors have much larger networks than many of us students do, so definitely take advantage of that!