A student at the State University of New York, Kurt Axl Santiago is pursuing a BS degree in Health & Society. When looking for experience in the healthcare sector, Kurt thought an internship at Lighthouse Guild would serve him well. It has—and it has also greatly benefitted Lighthouse Guild and its clients.
Working in the Outreach Department, Kurt spoke with Lighthouse Guild clients and potential clients reflecting diverse situations. Listening carefully to callers, he was able to match individuals’ needs with relevant Lighthouse Guild services. As a result of his guidance, many callers entered the Adaptive Living Program; among its services are customized low-vision exams and prescriptions, as well as home visits to enhance residential environments so clients can move around more safely and retain their independence. He also introduced callers to tele-support groups, where they could share experiences and strategies for overcoming specific challenges. “The most rewarding part of the job was listening closely to individual callers, finding just the right program for each one, and then learning how satisfied they were with services offered,” Kurt says. “In this way, I believe I directly contributed to the organization’s mission of helping visually impaired people attain their goals.”
Kurt’s internship reinforced his desire for a career in medical sales. “Although I had some retail experience, I was a bit intimidated about working in a professional office environment for the first time,” he confesses. “My internship freed me of this fear, as every supervisor and staff member I interacted with made me feel welcome and took time to teach me what I needed to learn.” This made Kurt an effective Outreach coordinator, as by the time he began talking with callers he was familiar with all departments and able to direct callers to the services most appropriate for them.
“This was an amazing introduction to both healthcare services and working in a professional setting,” Kurt notes. “During my internship, I was able to put into practice various marketing techniques I’d learned about in school—such as listening to the customer, serving as a brand ambassador, and selling and cross-selling tailored services,” Kurt says. He has already recommended a Lighthouse Guild internship to other students and hopes to volunteer again once he graduates.