An Invaluable Experience: Second to None

Samantha Flynn, co-operative student with Eastern Health, and her dog Chloe during their first summer in Nova Scotia, in June 2012.

Samantha Flynn, co-operative student with Eastern Health, and her dog Chloe during their first summer in Nova Scotia in June 2012.

My name is Samantha— but all my friends call me Sam.

Here’s a little bit about me, summed up in 400 characters: shopping is my favorite pastime; I have an everlasting love for basketball and pineapple; and, my best friend in the entire world is my furry, four-legged Goldendoodle. Oh, and last but not least— as an emerging communicator, I am absolutely passionate about the ever-evolving world of public relations.

In September, I will be entering my third year of the Bachelor of Public Relations program at Mount Saint Vincent University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In a nutshell: I love it.

A mandatory component of my program is co-operative education— an opportunity for students to develop skills and gain professional experience in their field of academic study. Fortunately, for my first work-term, I was given the opportunity to work with Eastern Health’s Corporate Communications Department.

Born and raised a proud Newfoundlander, coming home to work in a professional environment which allowed me to contribute to the well-being of our communities, was an unforgettable opportunity. As my journey here comes to an end today, I can’t help but want to share a small piece of the tremendous opportunity I’ve seized over the past four months.

The Call

Where was I when I received the offer from Eastern Health? Well, I could tell you that I was out with friends when the call came in; and we celebrated like a scene from a movie — but that’s simply just not true. Believe me: when it’s time for work-term job postings, tension is high and there are endless late nights of cover letter writing.

So, where was I really when I got a call to work with Eastern Health? I was in night class. A class with only 15 people. (Which made it a little awkward when I ran out of the classroom smiling; anxious to answer the call from “Co-op Office.”)

Before I knew it, there I was— in the corridor of Evaristus Hall, at Mount Saint Vincent University; receiving a call from my advisor who was prepared to make me an offer from Eastern Health’s Corporate Communications Department. Instantly, I accepted! Though, the poor guy— following protocol, of course— asked me if I needed more time to consider the offer. Before he could finish, I cut him off so quickly — “No no, I assure you I am pleased to accept this position!”

I mean, how could I say no? I was presented with an offer to work for one of the largest health care authorities in all of Atlantic Canada. This was the perfect opportunity to step out of the classroom and expand my skills through practical application.

I knew this was the job for me.

Looking Back

As I prepared to write this article, I asked myself: “How can I possibly describe a full summer of working with Eastern Health?”

Then it hit me— it was simple. Reflecting back on everything I have been a part of, my work-term with Eastern Health was entirely invaluable. (And no, I was not paid extra to say that!)

The amount and caliber of professional public relations and communications experience I am able to take away from this opportunity is second to none.

I wrote news releases and public service announcements; monitored the media, prepared postings for social media, drafted speaking notes and even conducted interviews for the upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM). You name it — I had the opportunity to work on anything and everything I could get my hands on.

A first-prize experience this summer was when I had the opportunity to be a part of the grand opening of the Jim Fields’ Memorial Garden at the Caribou Memorial Veteran’s Pavilion; a beautiful, therapeutic area for resident veterans who have dementia or mobility issues. And to imagine, being present for such a fabulous event wasn’t even the icing on the cake — rather, it was the opportunity I had to meet several honourable war veterans. This is an experience I will surely carry with me for many years to come.

Looking back, my work-term has brought me many memorable moments. Yet, my time with Eastern Health has extended far beyond what I have accomplished. Above all, I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most intelligent, selfless people.

Eastern Health’s communications team — along with many other health care employees I have been privileged to meet and work with — have truly inspired me. This summer, I was continually challenged with incredible opportunities. Each and every day, I developed new skills to help me on my journey to becoming a successful communications professional; and I couldn’t ask for a better team to help me along the way.

13,000 Thank yous

As I finish the last day of my co-op work term at Eastern Health, I can’t help but reflect on my experiences. Being part of an organization that has 13,000 employees who devote their lives to the health and safety of our people and communities is simply rewarding — and thanks to my colleagues, this is an experience I will never forget.

This story was written by Samantha Flynn, a public relations co-operative education student with Eastern health’s Corporate Communications Department.

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