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Mentoring the next generation

The KP Launch summer internship program helps college and high school students visualize a career in health care. Pictured, Kaiser Permanente college intern Joshua Atkins, 23, at left with his mentor, Ronelle Scardina in Berkeley.

KP Launch, Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s college and high school paid internship program, recently completed its 53rd summer of welcoming talented youth to learn about careers in health care.

Last summer the program was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic but resumed this year with 73 college interns chosen from a pool of 1,900 applicants and 294 high school students who were chosen from 2,700 applicants, said KP Launch Program Manager Felicia Duncan.

The program is designed to expose underrepresented students to careers in health care.

“The fact that we had 4,600 applicants combined for both programs means the students selected are the cream of the crop in terms of enthusiasm and potential,” said Duncan. “That is the beauty of KP Launch. There is a huge demand for this type of program. Our interns reflect the ethnic backgrounds of the people we serve but they may not necessarily be representative of those working in health care today.”

College students, or those who have recently graduated, work 40 hours a week in mostly non-clinical settings with 10 of those hours devoted to professional development skills, said Duncan. High school students this year met virtually 20 hours a week. College students earn $20.25 an hour, while high school students chosen for KP Launch receive a $1,200 stipend for the 8-week program that concluded August 6, Duncan said.

“I think it’s really great how people are helping me to improve my future and the organization as a whole.”  Intern Joshua Atkins

Twenty-three-year-old Joshua Atkins of Oakland, California, worked in the Kaiser Permanente East Bay Public Affairs Department this summer after graduating with a degree in marketing from Sonoma State University.

“I applied at Kaiser Permanente because it’s a great way to learn how a big organization works, and you can’t get that experience without being inside the business,” said Atkins. “They are giving me a lot of work that I’m interested in, which is marketing using graphic design.”

Meeting deadlines, pitching projects and giving presentations, putting together a portfolio of work, fine-tuning his resume, and learning to put a little extra effort into his work were all part of the gig, Atkins said.

“I think it’s really great how people are helping me to improve my future and the organization as a whole,” he added.

Ronelle Scardina, Kaiser Permanente communications manager for the East Bay, volunteered as a mentor and worked with Atkins, who she described as a young professional with a can-do attitude, a positive spirit, and a lot of promise.

“I found it very rewarding to work with Joshua because he embodies what we stand for,” said Scardina. “I’ve enjoyed teaching him about our brand and how we represent it. He’s been working on the look and feel of our newsletter. He’s been able to jump in and add value through the quality of his work, and I appreciate his enthusiasm.”

Scardina said the KP Launch program not only benefits the college and high school students who are chosen each year, but it is a rewarding experience for the established professionals who take the time to nurture new talent.

“It’s a way of giving back,” said Scardina. “I remember some of the great mentors and coaches in my life and want to do the same for others. It’s a great experience to work with someone early in their career and see them take their skills to the next level and hopefully open their eyes to new possibilities.”

The internship is always looking for new mentors, and outreach to employees for summer 2022 will begin in November, said Duncan. Those interested should check the KP Launch website for more information.





This Post Has One Comment

  1. I think this is an awesome program Kaiser Permanente offers. I participated in this program 34 years ago and it reinforced my decision to pursue a career in health care. After receiving my RN degree/license, I decided to come back to Kaiser Permanente because of the opportunity they gave me years earlier and I have been with Kaiser Permanente since.

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