Brie Moore, a senior at Miami University just spent her second summer in a row as a contingent writer (more on that later) at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. In other words, she was so fantastic the first year that they had to bring her back for another summer.
She also participated in our pilot of Career Hacks at Miami last Spring, which may have contributed to her great success, but it’s just a working theory. We caught up with her on her lunch break to talk “useless degrees,” career journeys, and annoying questions. Here’s the highlights from our conversation!
A NOT-SO USELESS LIBERAL ARTS DEGREE
I’m a double-major in Biology and Creative writing. Part of it was that I just have a natural curiosity for biology, but I don’t want to be a doctor or nurse. I always really loved English, writing, and reading—those things kind of my first love. But I also have very practical parents who said, “You could try to have at least some major that you could do something with.” So, I was like “Okay, Biology then! They were like, “Well that’s not what we meant, but okay.”
My sophomore year, I did a research project with my Cell Bio professor. People are starting to realize that doctors and researchers can’t communicate anything they’re talking about down the line to people who are less educated or even the general public. So me participating in that research and presenting in conferences with that led me to realize that’s a separate niche that’s available, so I looked for jobs and internships there.
My liberal arts background helps me to understand this kind of communication. When I’m doing a write-up, I think, well, who am I talking to, what do they know, what don’t they know, and why are they interested? And then I can craft a story out of something that doesn’t inherently have a story. Nobody really cares about cells but if you say, “Well, these cells could eventually be manipulated by medicine to kill cancer cells,” that’s really cool. As time went on, this sounds kind of pompous, but my employers were a little more impressed with me, like “oh you actually know how to write things!” They were kind of preparing for the worst, because I was the first intern in that department.
WHAT SHE DOES, EXACTLY
I’m not technically an intern. I’m a contingent writer. I work in the marketing and PR department in clinical and research communications. My job is basically finding the studies and other big things researchers and doctors are doing in the hospital, going to those researchers and doctors and interviewing them, and then writing content about it to push through various marketing channels to distribute inside and outside the hospital.
I’m currently writing an article about a researcher in mathematical medicine. Basically, super super smart people build mathematical models of how systems work that you can’t see from just looking at a body. So he’s looking at natural killer cells who basically kill any foreign body. So he’s explaining to me all these models and I’m sitting there and thinking “oh my god, if you tried to explain that to anyone who didn’t have a science background, they would be like ‘I have no idea what that is.’” I like that I’m the mediator between the hospital and everybody else, contributing to the reputation of the hospital.
My first year here, I was one of two interns in the department, and this marketing department has over one hundred people. Everybody else was far older, some were the CMO. I’ve had to learn how to not just sit in the corner and take up space and still not overstep my boundaries. If you want to participate, asking questions is a great way to break the ice. My people skills have definitely gotten a huge boost from this internship—like learning how you address someone that’s way more knowledgable than you without being too timid about it and how you assert your skills without stepping on others.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF JOB SEARCH
Before Vocatio—for humanities majors—finding jobs and internships was just self-driven. You kind of shoot everything off into the void and you never hear anything again. I went to Career Services and was like “how do you get an internship? How do you figure this out?” and they were like “Oh well 90% of people at Miami use their connections,” and I was like “That would be spectacular if I had any.” And that’s why I went to Vocatio.
My mindset of looking for a job has changed completely because of Vocatio. It’s not “I need to find a company who will accept me!” it’s, “Do I like you? Is this going to be a good fit?” It’s two people on the same level versus me as a resume in a sea of other resumes.
The culture is really important. When we talked about it in Career Hacks, I was like “yeah okay, culture’s important, yada yada yada, cool.” But when you work at a place for an extended period of time, you have to agree with the core tenants of the culture or you’re gonna be miserable. And the size of the institution you’re looking at really matters. Our culture emphasizes collaboration and learning and being open to innovating. Even if I’m bogged down in my job, it reinvigorates me and keeps me from burning out.
For me, it’s really hard to exist in isolation in a job. The part of a job you find most important—your deal breakers—become very evident. Those will obviously be taken into account as I go through my career. I don’t like working in a cube by myself. I like working on a walkable campus. I like being able to collaborate with my boss.
There’s this assumption: “Oh are you gonna stay, is that where you’re gonna work?” And they expect that you’ll have your life together at 21 or 22. They seem to assume that I’m making a choice for the rest of my life right now. For now, I’m going to stay in the medical realm, maybe try law school, but I’m leaning toward medical.
What I like about healthcare? It’s all in the name of helping other people, of improving health outcome. It’s got kind of a bright-eyed bushy-tailed bias: what can we discover? What can we figure out? But it’s also got its head out of the clouds; saying, “Great, we figured this out. But how can we use that to help people?” It’s the most nerdy service industry.
Brie was a part of Vocatio’s inaugural Career Hacks program last Spring. The program is returning to Miami University on 10/10/17. Sign up today!
See when the program is rolling toward your campus, or indicate your interest, here!
See Brie featured in our Career Hacks promo video!