Sarah Weber is a senior undergraduate student majoring in Community Health. Sarah is currently interning at Banyan Global, a development consulting firm with offices around the world in five different countries working to improve livelihoods, build markets, and promote efficient resource allocation in developing and transitional economies.
What is/was your internship experience while at SPH?
Global Health Intern at Banyan Global
What types of work are you doing for your internship?
I’m working on a USAID funded project called Saving Maternity Homes in Ghana. Banyan Global is partnering with the Ghana Registered Midwives Association (GRMA) to help improve the capacity and quality of care of private maternity homes in Ghana’s rural regions, which are usually staffed by a single midwife. I am actively involved in running a crowdfunding campaign for this project that will hopefully provide funds for GRMA to travel to Ghana’s rural regions and provide clinical training to the midwives, as well as recommendations on how they can improve their facilities. I have been incredibly active in the campaign’s research, design, and execution. I conduct extensive research on crowdfunding best practices, maternal health issues in Ghana, and the potential of skilled midwives to mitigate these issues. I designed several elements on our landing page and was involved in the writing/editing of our core message. Since the campaign has launched, I have managed a Facebook and Twitter account which I use to engage with supporters and forge connections with potential donors interested in maternal health. On a continuing basis, I am creating a manual on crowdfunding campaign development and execution, which will be used by Banyan Global staff for future projects.
Why did you select this internship experience?
During my first international experience in Zambia in 2011, I was shocked to witness the stark disparities in health between developed and developing countries. It was after that experience that I became passionate about overcoming barriers to healthcare quality and access in the developing world, which led me to study Community Health at UMD. In my sophomore year, I started taking classes under the Global Poverty minor, and my eyes were opened to the cross-cutting influencers of health such as economics, cultural values and gender roles. For my HLTH491 internship, I wanted to gain more understanding of this comprehensive approach to health. Banyan was founded with this approach in mind and every day in the office sectors merge to form a broader understanding of development challenges and solutions. Banyan was seeking an intern to work on this project in Ghana, the country where I spent a semester abroad, and I knew it was a perfect fit.
What has your internship taught you that went beyond what you learned in the classroom?
My internship has taught me that overcoming barriers to healthcare access and quality in the developing world is incredibly challenging. In the classroom, I learned how to conduct research and develop health messages but
when doing it at work, especially in a cross-cultural context, I have to constantly be resilient and find solutions to unforeseen issues. It has given me a newfound respect for health personnel who fight for global health equity in the face of incredible challenges.
How has your SPH internship helped shape your future goals and career plans?
At Banyan, I have realized that I want to pursue a career in international development’s health sector. It is inspiring to work with people who have jobs that I’m aspiring towards. They have provided me with career advice, which has given me great direction that I wouldn’t have had without an internship experience. I have a much better idea now of what I want to do professionally and the steps I have to take to get there.
What are some of the most important professional skills or connections you gained?
I have gained valuable skills in professional communication, prioritizing tasks in a fast paced environment, and the balance between solving problems independently and asking for help when I need it. I am always learning something new but it is comforting to know that I will enter the work force equipped with the skills I need to conduct myself in a professional environment.