As a student currently pursuing a Business of Healthcare certificate, I’ve seen many topics I’ve studied during my time as a global public health intern at Austin Smiles. I initially joined Austin Smiles to gain more exposure to the nonprofit sector of healthcare, focusing mostly on the organization’s mission and values. Furthermore, I am interested in going into the pediatric field after I graduate, so I believed this organization would be a good way to gain experience with individuals involved with underserved children and volunteer medical professionals. After over 2 months of interning at Austin Smiles, I can say that I’ve learned beyond the scope I expected.
I am currently taking a Healthcare Management course at UT Austin so it was great to see several connections between Austin Smiles and my class material. For starters, our class discussed early in the year that many who are not well-covered by government programs or simply cannot afford insurance face many financial problems, especially with highly-complex procedures. After strongly keeping Austin Smiles’s mission in mind and gladly supporting its causes such as fundraising for mission funds, I have learned that Austin Smiles is indeed one of these organizations. With the goal of serving underrepresented and underserved populations within Texas and in South America, Austin Smiles has held true to their mission of providing accessible, quality care to children who have cleft palate and cleft lip conditions. Although I have always heard of organizations who aid individuals for no cost, it is amazing to see the impacts of a nonprofit from the inside, working as an intern. One small detail I appreciate seeing from Austin Smiles is how the organization continuously strives to find donors to help fund future trips that provide several children with medical care despite the obstacles caused by the pandemic. These unusual circumstances have been especially harsh on facilities that work within medical and health-related fields, yet Austin Smiles has continued to prove that future planning and constant communication with staff, such as us interns, are important goals within this organization. On our AmplifyTexas page, there was also much transparency about where each donation would go depending on the amount donated. From my business courses, I’ve learned that transparency is highly valued by potential donors and those who are not familiar with the organization’s cause when it comes to nonprofits.
Secondly, from the work I’ve done as an intern, I’ve found that organization, communication, and management are important skills needed when working in a nonprofit, medical agency. I have spent most of my time, so far, working on potential donor lists, researching on larger companies, and finding possible locations to host activities for the children Austin Smiles serves. I have learned that there are many components in aiding a facility like this one, and it all begins with efficient planning and communication between outside resources as well as our supervisors and co-staff in Austin Smiles. Seeing Austin Smiles make such a difference in communities while also viewing the agency from a business-healthcare perspective has really helped me personally and professionally.
Being able to view the impacts of Austin Smiles from within the organization has been an amazing experience. I also hope to explore the social networking and budgeting aspects of the organization in the upcoming weeks, so I definitely look forward to learning something new soon. Although my internship has not ended, I know I will be utilizing the skills I have acquired throughout this program in my future careers!
University of Texas