Monday, November 24, 2014

Supplementing Academics: Learning outside the classroom

First off, Academics are VERY important and should take a great deal of your focus and time at Gettysburg. However, you may also want to explore opportunities outside the classroom, as those experiences can be extremely valuable in helping to shape you as a person and prepare you for your future.  Through those opportunities you can learn about your interests, abilities, and skills as they relate to the professional world. They can be influential in how you’d like to use your studies and how you want to make a difference in this world.

Don’t wait!  Make the most of each year at Gettysburg.  You don’t have to be involved in a million activities - find your ideal balance and find something you really enjoy.  Explore, have fun, find out who you are, what you’re good at (or not), and what you like (or don’t).  There are ample opportunities on Gettysburg’s campus, so start exploring!

Experiential Learning:  Learning through experience is incredibly valuable - learn something completely new or use/enhance what you’ve learned in the classroom. Investigate your career interests, gain accurate knowledge of the workplace, and learn relevant skills by participating in job shadowing, externships, internships, immersion trips, student employment, and more through the Center for Career Development.  Additionally, check out the amazing programs and trips offered through the Office of Experiential Education, Center for Public Service, and Eisenhower Institute.

Leadership:  Did you know that there are more than 1,000 leadership opportunities every year at Gettysburg?  Starting a new student organization, serving on the executive board of a club/organization, coordinating volunteers, planning campus programs, and serving on a campus committee are a few examples.  A leader doesn’t have to be someone in a formal leadership position, though. Check out the Garthwait Leadership Center, which is an excellent resource to help you start building and enhancing your leadership skills.

Athletics:  NCAA includes 11 men’s and 11 women’s sports – whether you are team member or a fan, show your Gettysburg pride!  Campus Recreation also offers 8 club sports, or you can get a group of your friends together to form a team or simply join one in existence for any of the intramural sports, tournaments, or special events.

Clubs & Organizations:  Over 120 – that’s right! Chances are, no matter your interest, you can find an organization in which to get involved and meet other students.  If you don’t, talk to the Office of Student Activities about how to start one.
Research with faculty, community service/volunteering, student employment, and so much more!

FUN FACT:  Did you know that you can print your Participation & Recognition Report in the Student Center, which includes your involvement in many of the above activities, as well as honors you’ve received during college.  It is a great resource to have as you move beyond Gettysburg – you may not always remember everything you were involved in!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Extern Emma Kropke @ NBC Universal

      Spending a week at NBC Universal was a prospect that I was largely anticipating all summer long.  My experience that I had been anticipating came to fruition on July 28, 2014.  My week-long externship at NBC Universal began with an introductory meeting with Nick Johnson, SVP of Digital Media Sales, and other members of the NBC Sports team.

       I was eager to learn about the inner workings of the digital media division of NBC Sports.  I was to begin this learning process with Mike Marcus, the digital sports marketing director.  While shadowing Mr. Marcus, I was able to gain insight as to how the marketing team works and what their responsibility is at NBC Sports.  The marketers constitute ideas for ad campaigns and present these ideas on power point presentations.  On the second day of my externship, I met with Ali Leuthold and other members of the planning department.  Ms. Leuthold introduced me to the responsibilities of this division, which included their role as coordinators of activities between various departments.  The following days of my externship were spent meeting with the sales and operations department. 

       On Wednesday July 30, I met with Mike Hammer and Bill Keating from the sales department.  The members of the sales department work directly with their clients, as they are responsible for both receiving ad proposals as well as selling ad campaigns to the clients.  The final department I shadowed was the ad operations department.  Susie Meehan, the director of ad operations, explained to me her position as director of ad ops and explained to me how this department functions.  The ad operations department is in charge of the technicality of the company, ensuring the ads run smoothly.  On the final day of my externship I had a meeting with Nick Johnson, both one-on-one and as a group.  At this meeting, the externs and I gave Mr. Johnson feedback about our experience as externs at NBC Sports. 

       The externship I partook in at NBC Sports opened my eyes to the various job opportunities NBC Sports has to offer. It gave me an understanding of how the different departments at NBC Sports collaborate together to carry out the function of a digital media company.  The externship provided me the opportunity to experience what an employee of NBC Sports does on a daily basis.  For example, I sat in on various meetings, listened to several conference calls, and even helped Susie Meehan create a power point presentation regarding the upcoming 2016 Olympic games.  My week at NBC Universal provided to be an utterly invaluable experience.  Through the generosity of Nick Johnson and his team, I was introduced to the work of their digital media division.  I found this line of work to be of the utmost interest that has sparked a desire for me to possibly pursue a career in this field. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Extern Morgan Marianelli @ NBC Universal

            It seems like ages ago now that I first made the decision to commit to a summer externship in the spring of my Junior year. I vaguely remembered hearing about the externship programs in past years and seeing advertisements for them around campus, but never really felt compelled until now to take the initiative and apply to one of them. I had already completed an internship at a live entertainment venue called Komedia while studying abroad in Bath, England, which, lasting a full semester, I assumed would be far more extensive than anything I could take away from an externship lasting a mere week. A lot of people probably do it the other way around and start with an externship before transitioning into an internship. I questioned whether an externship was really worth my time and almost let my doubts dissuade me from applying. Less than a day into my externship, however, I realized how wrong my thinking was and felt immensely thankful that the opportunity to observe at NBC for a week was open to Gettysburg College students, and that I was accepted into the program.

            My greatest cause of anxiety before the start of the externship was probably figuring out how to navigate New York City on my own, and also presenting myself in the most professional way possible each day to high-end executives. It was more than a little intimidating walking into the enormous skyscraper in the middle of Rockefeller Center, getting a pass from security, and making my way up to the 29th floor to meet my externship host, Gettysburg alum Nick Johnson ’90. NBC is a company I have heard about for as long as I can remember, and I have grown up watching the NBC television network for news and entertainment, and viewing their content online. However, I initially felt like an outsider with no inside knowledge trying to insert myself into a major corporation, which was basically true; however, it didn’t take long to quell my nerves and start to feel comfortable with the externship as soon as I saw how friendly and accommodating everyone was. I was afraid I would feel like a burden by disrupting the employees’ normal work routines, but everyone whom I met with seem honored that I took such an interest in their work, and were eager to bestow their knowledge on me.

            I really enjoyed the rotational structure of the externship, since it allowed me to observe a different department within the NBC Sports Group each day, in order to get a feel for what each department did, how they collaborated, and which was most in line with my skills and interests. By the end of the week, I was able to conclude that a career in media marketing, either digital or linear (television), is probably the most promising scenario for me, from the four departments I observed. It seemed to involve the most creative thinking and writing/communication skills, which I have acquired from my English and Film double majors, and Jeff Carroll, the marketing director I met with on the first day, was an English major as well at Lafayette College. He gave me some great tips on how I can start to market myself as a writer to employers in the media and entertainment industry.  He has many writing and entertainment contacts that he can connect me with as well, such as writers for Saturday Night Live. 

            There were many fun perks thrown into the five day externship experience, such as a lavish dinner with Nick and some other NBC employees at a restaurant called The Palm, the chance to meet individually with some employees who had experience working in the entertainment sector of NBC, and just getting to explore the city on my own. However, the best part of the externship, overall, is by far all the new knowledge and experience I will take away from it, as well as multiple contacts I can continue to communicate with for career advice and references. My externship experience at NBC Universal was well worth my time, and I am so grateful for everything I have gained from having participated in it!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Extern Miranda Ray @ London Women’s Care: Family Practice

                The externship in London, Kentucky with Dr. Zook has been extremely rewarding. Dr. Zook works at London Women’s Care: Family Practice. This is a well-established rural health care center. Rural health care centers are established with the intention of aiding persons with Medicare and Medicaid. These rural health clinics have extended hours and are very accepting and flexible with patient’s schedules and overall needs. London Women’s Care’s clientele is comprised a whopping 60% Medicare/ Medicaid insured persons. In short, these people that we have been interacting with are sometimes sweet Kentuckians with a warm accent and sometimes snappy and unappreciative, sometimes pensive and considerate of Dr. Zook’s advice while others are glazed over when they were given medical tips, sometimes they smelled like cinnamon or axe and sometimes, well, they smelled like cat pee.                        

As exemplified by the list above, during my time at London Women’s Care I was exposed to a variety of patients. I witnessed many techniques used to deal with difficult or abrasive situations. My, if you will, dream is to somehow work with and improve the lives of underprivileged folks. This Externship has thoroughly introduced me to a population I have been working towards caring for; I have been given an excellent jumping board for understanding the skills I need to develop to work with this population. I will speak of one example of a patient where I have learned a great deal about interviewing, understanding a patient’s physical needs, and helping with the patient’s emotional needs.
                The lady I will speak of was a relatively new patient, only on her second visit to London Women’s Care. Upon entering the room, we could see that she was noticeably shiny due to sweat, but let me assure you, the facility is quite cold. She was fiddling incessantly with a magazine to avoid eye contact after initial introductions. Dr. Zook chatted with the anxious woman for a bit and she calmed slightly. Dr. Zook then began to interview her asking simple questions that were friendly and inviting. At one point the lady commented on how sweaty she was due to her anxiety when she leaves the house. She mentioned repeatedly how difficult it was to leave her house to go to Walmart or go to a doctor’s appointment.  Dr. Zook mentioned social anxiety, and I, being inexperienced, just assumed that this was a diagnosis and Dr.Zook would not have ask many more questions, giving us a nice, short visit with a concrete conclusion. Then, Dr. Zook asked her a question that I found odd: “What are you afraid of when you step out of your house?” To my surprise, the woman became unsettled and looked away from us, turning pages of a magazine just to turn them. She was beginning to cry! After she settled a bit, she proceeded to tell us her amazing story. A story where we glimpsed the life of a seventeen year old marrying a boy, who quickly became an abusive and controlling man. He taped the doors when he left, so that he knew if she opened them, he tortured any pet she owned and dared her to save them, he installed cameras to monitor her daily movements, and he beat her severely if she returned after an amount of time he deemed too long. Oh, and he also placed a gun to her head every time she stepped outside to smoke (she had the babies to worry about), threatening to “blow her brains out. This and more was apart of 31 years of a psychologically shattering marriage. She finally ran away, but was left with serious emotional damage, including PTSD.  Her new diagnosis changed a lot of things in this woman’s life. She would be switched to new medication that would help alleviate her PTSD symptoms, she would be given the correct sleeping medication, she would start therapy to help heal the broken places in her heart and she would hopefully be able to leave the house and go hold her one month old grandbaby. These major changes in her life are occurring because of a few questions from a doctor who felt the need to find the root cause of a patient’s problem.
                Even in a visit with a single patient, I saw what I must work on to become an efficient and caring health professional. I have to get to the root cause of a patient’s problem with a gentle and eloquent style that reflects the degree to which I care.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Extern Emily Wasson @ London Women's Care

Life in London - My public health Externship experience in rural Kentucky

My name is Emily, and I will be a junior biology major at Gettysburg College this year. I am now faced with decisions about my future career, and it is more distressing than I ever imagined. The classes I have taken at Gettysburg have assured me that I have a passion for public health initiatives. Thanks to the Career Development Center at Gettysburg College I was set up with an externship in August 2014 that would help me determine if public health is the right field of work for me.

I ended up in a small town in eastern Kentucky.  For one week, I had the pleasure of shadowing Dr. Melissa Zook, a family physician at London Women’s Care in London, KY. She generously provided housing in her own home during my stay, and I had the opportunity to experience the hectic life a doctor lives. Unexpectedly, I was astounded by the severity of the problems that the people of this part of the United States face every day.

As a family care physician, Dr. Zook serves as a personal therapist and gives advice to her patients to get them through the day. Some of them even broke down in tears during their appointment. There were so many people that appeared to be well and thriving, but were desperately seeking help. And up until recently, they could not afford it.

Now that affordable health insurance is available to the impoverished community of London, there has been a steady rise in the number of people that desire medical attention. Sadly, there is a severe lack of medical resources in this place. I saw for the first time how desperately some people need and want to get their lives on track, but simply do not have the resources or education to do so.
As a result of limited psychiatric and counseling services, many of the people that walked through the doors of the office were emotionally unstable. Mental health problems in terms of depression, anxiety and drug addiction have overwhelmed the health services system.

Additionally, there were kids that had half the teeth they should. Poor dental hygiene is a major issue in this community and has been attributed to the abundance of sugary drinks and sodas available in the home, and or the fact that people do not have access to or insurance to pay for dental visits.
During the five days I spent at London Women’s Care, I met six pregnant teens, many of whom already had children.  Teenage pregnancy is so common in this area, and unfortunately, the foster care system has a difficult time placing children into loving homes.

Poor parenting in some of these situations can cause many behavior problems in children and lead to an abundance of complicated health issues in their adult lives. Dr. Zook explained that she regularly contacts social services to help the neglected and abused patients she has. 

You can see these side effects of these public health problems in the school systems, and they are hindering students’ ability to earn a good education. One boy from the town of London described that nearly one third of the students in his graduating class dropped out of school before receiving a diploma. Many left due to drug related issues, teen pregnancy and or criminal behavior. He explained that this is the norm.

I think the hardest part about listening to these stories is how challenging it is to make change as a doctor. This is especially true for the people of this community that have lived this way their whole life and see no need for improvement.

Poverty exists, and this cycle will never heal completely unless we convince others that there is a need for change.  My experience in London, Kentucky has shown me that I want to study public health after Gettysburg College to address the problems that our society has created and bring new solutions to the table. I feel confident that this is the career path that I am most passionate about pursing, and I will be eternally grateful for my experience with Dr. Zook for helping me come to a decision about my future profession. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Konrad Neptun '17 @ OpenLink

When I first heard about the externship program offered at Gettysburg College, I was unsure yet eager to discover more about the program that I had heard so much about from upperclassmen.   

So, when I stopped into the career development office to learn more about all of the externship options, I was taken aback as to the plethora of opportunities that were available to all students.  After some further research, I decided that my top choice was to apply for the OpenLink externship and I was thrilled when I learned I was chosen later that semester.  Now that I am finished with the externship, I can honestly say that this was an incredible experience that benefitted me in more ways than one.  This experience allowed me to witness and even participate in meetings, conference calls, and a variety of other business situations.  One of the most interesting experiences of the week was meeting with employees of OpenLink from almost every branch of the company.  This was especially interesting because I heard each individual’s career path from when they graduated college and to where they are now.  This taught me that career paths are extremely variable and that it is essential to network.  One of the most interesting meetings was on the second day of the week when I met with the CEO of OpenLink, Mark Greene (see first picture above).   

This was especially interesting because Dr. Greene talked about a wide variety of topics including any vital career lessons or tips that he learned throughout his business career.  Other meetings that were interesting included any of the positions in the company that were being held by Gettysburg alums.  This was beneficial because these employees were in my position at one point in their lives and seeing where they are now was a reassuring feeling that Gettysburg will prepare you for the working world (see second picture below).  All in all, this experience proved to be extremely beneficial I am very glad that I decided to participate in this program.  I am sure that I will be able to use the skills I gained in this program both in a out of the classroom in my next three years at Gettysburg College.   

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Extern Elizabeth Broske '17 @ Hanover Hospital Medical Fitness Center

During the week of July 7-11, I was with Jody Moyer and the other staff members at the Hanover Hospital Medical Fitness Center (MFC) in Hanover, PA. The Medical Fitness Center is a place that is designed to promote health and fitness to individuals with medical conditions and to some who are seeking general conditioning.  The staff makes individualized programs for every person. In the MFC you see different diagnosis such as arthritis, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis and more. The average age of the patient is around 69. Jody Moyer is an Exercise Physiologist and an Athletic Trainer.

I experienced many new things this week. One of the things that I spent a lot of time with were the aquatic exercise programs and classes. There are many different kinds of programs. There are cardio, strengthening, yoga, relaxation, and arthritis classes. These classes utilized different items such as pool noodles, kick boards, underwater dumbbells, and more. Usually once, if not twice, I would join in on some of these classes. It was very interesting to see the different types of classes that they offer at the MFC and the beneficial effects they have on the patients.

I sat in on two new patient assessments with a staff member. I learned what kinds of things are done to determine how to move forward with this patient. The staff member tested strength, stability, posture, flexibility and more. With this assessment, the professionals are able to make a plan for the patient and give them exercises to do whenever they are able to come.

At the MFC, the trainers run an employee wellness program. This program gives options to different employees of Hanover Hospital to better their health. If they participate, their insurance premium is lowered. There is the water challenge (where you have to drink 8, 8oz bottles of water a day for a month), the START program (30 minutes of exercise every day for 3 months), and many other options similar to those.

Also there is a new program at the MFC for improving speed and agility. Two younger girls (16 and 14) are a part of the program. I think it is a really great idea for this program. I personally did one of these programs before soccer season and it prepared me so well for the season. Not only did it get me in shape and increase my strength, it prevented injuries that could have been caused during the season.

I also sat in on a physical therapy evaluation. This was different from the other MFC’s assessments because they were focused on one area of the patient. I was talking to the physical therapists about my possible career goals and they gave me great input and advice. I really enjoyed this look into the physical therapy occupation because this is what I believe I would want to do in the future.

A major thing I learned about during this externship is pulmonary rehabilitation. I saw for the first time someone with a tracheostomy. I learned all about how, why, and when a patient needs one. I also learned what type of things a patient could do in a pulmonary rehabilitation center to help them. This patient with a tracheostomy is not on the transplant list yet. I learned that John's Hopkins Hospital wants the patient to be able to walk 30 minutes straight before they are eligible for a transplant. When I was talking to this patient, who couldn't speak but mouthed words, she said that when she first started coming to therapy she was walking only 2 minutes straight. She is now walking 15 minutes straight. This shows first hand how much pulmonary rehabilitation helps.

After I learned some more details about the patients, the pulmonary therapist gave a lesson to some of the patients with COPD. She said that many doctors don't provide all of the details you need to really understand the illness. This class was very enlightening and I learned so much, as I'm sure many of the patients did. The therapist was very detailed and made it easy to learn about lung diseases making it very interesting.

Overall, this externship was an amazing experience and I’m so glad I was able to participate. This location was perfect for my career aspirations because I was able to look into many different health profession options. This week has helped me narrow down the possibilities of what I want to do in my future while also giving me new ideas.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Externs Rebecca Utzinger '15 & Julie Schuldt ‘17 @ AT&T

Learn about Rebecca Utzinger's week on her own blog and read about Julie's experience below!

The Ins & Outs of AT&T, Extern edition - Julie Schuldt

My externship experience at AT&T was phenomenal. Alum Jack Duffy, Vice President of Customer Service, prepared a fantastic week for us filled with AT&T education, meetings with executives, and exposure to corporate life.
On our tour of the GNOC, Global Network Operations Center (AKA the Disneyland for data managers), we got a sneak peak into the “ins” of AT&T data control through 140+ television monitors. I learned how large of a corporation AT&T is. Besides wireless, AT&T encompasses wire line and data processing services for companies ranging from a business like Pizza House to IBM. As a technological company, AT&T has successfully expanded from its original invention of the telephone to a major player in the technological field today.
We had back to back to back meetings with executives from various levels at AT&T, all bringing a unique story and tid bit of advice we externs could take with us. Many executives, rather amazed, revealed they had been with the company for
     “23 years”
     “28 years…wow”
     “Almost 32 years”
     “There’s a guy who has been here for 60 years!”
That’s not just dedication; it’s loyalty as a result of a company that provides incredible career opportunities within its corporation.

 Many of the associates from the small business side discussed the importance of active listening, and finding solutions for a customer’s needs. Executives dealing with larger accounts began as sales associates, and were given opportunities of more responsibility within the company. They emphasized communication skills as a necessity for managing a large team. The top most executives, who all began as young graduates and took opportunities that allowed for growth, even if they were a big uncomfortable, shared their success story, which was achieved through determined attitudes, risk taking, and networking.
Networking, a key word seen in many Gettysburg College Center for Career Development events.

During the week we had a conversation with AT&T Recruiters, but never met them in person. During our Telepresence meeting, a very sophisticated skype session, we talked with recruiters in Atlanta in charge of the Business Sales Leadership Development Program (BLSDP). This popular program, especially among Gettysburg graduates, is an intensive sales leadership course that prepares AT&T hires for sales by delving into the “ins” of AT&T but also the “outs” in understanding sales success in any situation. The BSLDP more importantly serves as their foundation for jump-starting an incredible career. Many of the executives we met with applauded the program, and discussed their higher success within AT&T as a result of their background in sales.

Obviously the corporate culture of AT&T is unique; valuing integrity, collaboration, teamwork, customer satisfaction, and passion. During my externship I was exposed to positive corporate culture, but more importantly began building my network and relationships to help kick start my career.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Extern Ryan Selfridge '16 @ Comegno Law Group

My week with the Comegno Law Group has been an incredible experience from start to finish, and I am so grateful that I have been afforded this opportunity. There were so many different things for me to attend and learn about over the course of the five days I was here, and I count myself extremely lucky for that. The town that the office is located in is around forty minutes from where I live and I was familiar with the area, so the commute was not an issue for me.
The different experiences that I was able to observe were numerous, and I was more than happy to attend anything that I was able to. From labor negotiations between school boards and the teachers’ union to an emergent relief hearing regarding a school prom, every day I saw something new and interesting. Heading into my externship I was pretty certain about my desire to go to law school, but there was some doubt, and I had no idea what type of law would interest me the most. Coming out, I am almost completely positive that law school is what I want to do with my life. Education law is now a definite option for me, because of how interesting it was, as well as the rapport I saw between the attorneys and their longtime clients.
To be able to watch an emergent relief case essentially begin and end was the highlight of my week. The case focused on a student who wanted to bring her boyfriend of four years, a high school dropout who has a history of violence and drug problems, amongst other things, to prom at that very school. The school denied the guest during the review process, so there was a petition for emergent relief filed to allow him to attend. I was able to watch the entire case develop, and listen to the attorneys’ thoughts on it. I was able to do research on several of the court cases that were cited in the brief, and some of my notes were used in the preparation of the brief, and it was nice to see that I was able to contribute. The case culminated in litigation, with Mr. Comegno representing the school district, and it was a tremendous experience to watch an attorney as skilled and seasoned as he is argue his case.

The Comegno Law Group, P.C. has truly been great over this week. From giving personal insight to the process of applying to and going to law school, to showing me some of the nuances of being an attorney, every employee has been wonderful. Mr. Comegno has been a phenomenal host, and I was more than happy to absorb as much knowledge as he could offer. My externship has been extremely positive, and being able to attend all of these different events has been a definite learning experience, and one I plan to use when deciding on my future.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Navigating My Diverse Accounting Path - by Abigail Dalessio ‘08

After an introductory accounting course my sophomore year at Gettysburg College, I knew accounting was a career I wanted. Soon after, I declared a double major in economics and management, the closest thing Gettysburg had to an accounting major and set my sights on a career in public accounting. I landed a spot in a “leadership conference” for a big four accounting firm the summer after my sophomore year and my performance there earned me a spot in their internship program the following summer. The internship experience was a valuable one and through it, I learned I had to continue my studies in order to not only be eligible for the CPA exam, but also to get the attention of other public accounting firms. What accounting firm wants an economics and management major?

Turns out after a post-baccalaureate certificate in accounting, ParenteBeard was that firm. I worked for almost four years in ParenteBeard’s audit practice until recently. I have transitioned into a different role within the firm. In this new role, I manage and schedule activities for our audit practice. My liberal arts degree has proven to be a strong base for both roles. Auditing proved to be more than just accounting; here at ParenteBeard, auditing is providing exceptional client service, team work and communication on top of the numbers. Four years at Gettysburg gave me the well-rounded education that I needed to be successful in public accounting. This also set me up for the position I now hold as Utilization Manager of the Audit Practice which involves communication across all levels of our firm and strategizing our people and clients, in addition to an analytical mind.

One of my Gettysburg professors asked me why I wanted to be an accountant, knowing that Gettysburg did not offer it as a major. She almost suggested I transfer. I was utterly stunned, for I chose Gettysburg for the liberal arts education as its invaluable teachings and the critical thinking skills honed in each class. I encourage those liberal arts students out there to seek whatever career interests them, despite what major is offered. Find the closest thing to it and make it worth your while, or even make your own major (that option was there when I was at Gettysburg)! So you may have to take some extra credits at some other schools, but it will be worth it.

Abigail Dalessio ’08 is Utilization Manager at ParenteBeard, a top 25 accounting, tax and business advisory firm headquartered in Center City Philadelphia.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Leverage Point Media - Nicholas Papoutsis '17

During my week at LeveragePoint Media, located in East Dundee, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, I became completely immersed into the world of pharmaceutical advertising. I was graciously hosted by Gettysburg College alumnus and CEO of LeveragePoint Media Jim O’Dea 80’. My externship experience was conducted with RxEDGE Networks, one of the two business sub-units that comprise Mr. O’Dea’s company. RxEDGE provides in-store advertisements for large drug companies such as Pfizer or Astra Zeneca in the form of “Solutions at the Shelf” information dispensers.

The basic scenario of this marketing strategy typically goes as follows: a consumer suffering from some health issue attempts to self-treat the problem and enters a pharmacy to find an over-the-counter product that will help relieve his or her ailment. Leveragepoint directly engages the customers and simultaneously provides exposure for prescription drug companies through their custom information dispensers. The dispensers provide general information and possible special offers for a certain prescription drug that the customer can then pursue and obtain. A prime example of this marketing strategy can be seen in one of the photos below, in which a dispenser for the EpiPen injection device is located next to antihistamines such as Benadryl within the pharmacy.

After familiarizing myself with the basics of the service that LeveragePoint Media provides, I became deeply engaged with the intricacies and logistics of what it takes to run the company and produce the final product. Kathleen Bonetti, Vice President of Marketing at LeveragePoint, was gracious enough to set up an itinerary for my externship week that would enable me to view each aspect of the company. From operations to finance and analytics, I was able to get a glimpse of the behind the scenes work that is so critical to providing a successful marketing campaign.

Other highlights of my week at LeveragePoint Media included some notable, engaging experiences. On the morning of my first day at LeveragePoint, I was assigned two small projects that would help me delve deeper into the world of pharma-marketing and even allow me to provide my own perspective on the information I researched. My first task was to complete a set of industry knowledge questions that I would slowly be able to answer each day as I learned more and more about the world of pharmaceutical advertising. The second project was also ongoing and necessitated thorough research on the topic of pharmaceutical gamification, which is nothing more than employing the characteristics of a video game to help patients monitor their adherence to prescription medications in a fun and engaging manner. I was to research the current state of gamification in the industry and compile a list of the games being developed by the large drug companies. As a culminating activity, I presented both projects to Mr. O’Dea and Kathleen in private and discussed the key takeaways from my week at LeveragePoint Media.

 My personal favorite highlight from the externship was a professional photo shoot at a Walgreen’s pharmacy, which allowed me to see some of LeveragePoint’s products first-hand in a real world setting. Pictures were taken with models posing in front of some of LeveragePoint’s dispenser boxes advertising different prescription drugs. This experience helped bring to life everything I had learned during the week. Finally, I was able to take a tour of downtown Chicago during my stay, which was an absolutely incredible experience. In just a few hours with Mr. O’Dea, I toured sights such as Wrigley Field, The Navy Pier, and Buckingham Fountain. Overall, I am incredibly grateful to the O’Dea family, the employees at LeveragePoint Media, and Gettysburg College for making this externship experience possible.