Alumni Internship Highlight: Meet Desiree!

UTSA alumna Desiree Erin Bellicini received her degree in Health with an Emphasis in Community Health and Preventative Service in May 2020. During her Senior year, she aimed to complete an internship before graduating. While assisting Dr. Aleta Baldwin as a Student Reader/Grader II, Desiree sought out additional experience in her field. Through the support of the Career Center, Desiree was able to accomplish her goal of landing an internship! She even overcame the obstacle of completing her internship in the midst of the pandemic!

In the spring of 2020, Desiree interned for the City of San Antonio – Metropolitan Health District as a Chronic Disease Prevention Student Intern II. 

Throughout the duration of her internship, the Corpus Christi native gained experience working on the following projects within the Chronic Disease Prevention Department:

  • ¡Por Vida! Healthy Restaurant Coalition programming
  • ¡Viva Health! Nutrition Education campaign
  • The City of San Antonio’s Anti-Vaping Coalition
  • The San Antonio Mayor’s Fitness Council

The majority of Desiree’s time was spent working with the Community Nutrition team and ¡Por Vida! partners to help with the expansion of the ¡Por Vida! program. She collected primary data from an estimated 90 respondents, which helped gauge the community’s current understanding of the program. She also synthesized qualitative data into a quantitative format and created deliverables that the Community Nutrition Coordinator, Haley Amick,  continues to use for program planning, expansion, and marketing. Desiree’s work with the Mayor’s Fitness Council allowed her to participate in strategic planning sessions and attend multiple work group meetings which helped to steer the Council’s direction in 2020.

How COVID-19 Impacted Her Internship

In March 2020, there were many concerns that came up for her team. The Community Nutrition team, along with many other departments within Metro Health, had to divert all of their attention to COVID-19 response efforts, so her biggest responsibility shifted to developing and producing content for the ¡Por Vida¡ social media accounts. From a communications standpoint, she created a nutrition-focused newsletter and featured local partners and resources for the San Antonio Business Group on Health. Lastly, Desiree developed social media content for the San Antonio Metropolitan Health.

Key Insight from Her Experience

The most exciting aspect of her internship was being able to work directly with many of the directors and managers within San Antonio’s Metropolitan Health District and seeing her content being posted throughout the various City of San Antonio social media accounts. Another highlight was having the opportunity to meet with and participate in strategic planning meetings with Mayor Ron Nirenberg for the Mayor’s Fitness Council.

One of the more challenging aspects of her internship was balancing her workload for all the different programs and board meetings for the Mayor’s Fitness Council.

“Time management was definitely an important factor during the course of my internship!” – Desiree Erin Bellicini

Preparation For Success

The University Career Center helped Desiree prepare for her internship and also guided her through the application process. She utilized walk-in hours to get her resumé reviewed and was very adamant about meeting with her career counselor, Mike Zucker, as she began her application process.

“Mike Zucker has also been key in not only helping me fine-tune my resume and cover letter but also with providing career-oriented advice since I started at UTSA as a transfer student two years ago.” – Desiree Erin Bellicini

Desiree’s Top Recommendations For Students Looking For An Internship

  1. Do not be afraid to ask questions! Asking questions will help to provide the necessary information so that you can do the best job possible.
  2. Time management is key, especially if you are participating in your internship while balancing classes. Find out what scheduling platform that works best for you, such as calendar/to-do list apps vs. using a planner.
  3. Be a self-starter. Do not wait for your internship site to tell you exactly what to do every day. If you complete a project and your supervisor is busy, approach a colleague, and find out ways that you can help them or find another task that will benefit the organization.

Final Takeaways

Interning for the City of San Antonio has prepared Desiree for her career in public health by providing exposure to multiple facets within Community Health, which she was not previously aware of.

The most enjoyable part of the experience for her was working with others within the community and the public health field. Desiree’s core team within Community Nutrition was extremely knowledgeable and dedicated to providing valuable resources to improve the overall health of the community. Everyone that she interacted with at San Antonio’s Metropolitan Health Department was passionate about being a public servant. Overall, it helped her develop personal and professional relationships with other professionals that assisted her in pursuing her career goals.

Currently, Desiree works directly on the COVID-19 Community Response Coalition as a Senior Management Analyst contractor for the City of San Antonio’s Metropolitan Health District. She was also recently accepted into UTSA’s MBA program beginning in Spring 2021. Overall, she enjoys working in an environment where she knows her actions could improve access to resources for members of our community regarding their health.

Quote that defines her: “The highest levels of performance come to people who are centered, intuitive, creative, and reflective – people who know to see a problem as an opportunity.” – Deepak Chopra

By Tyra Allen
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