Over this past winter intersession, I had the opportunity to shadow Charles Brown, chief of staff at Rally Health in Washington, D.C. Through this experience, I was able to gain valuable insights into the operations of a rapidly expanding tech company with a focus on healthcare.
Coming into this Princeternship, I had never stepped into an actual office environment before. While I had previously explored my interests in medicine and software development, I had yet to see how the two fields work together commercially. My time at Rally was a wonderful opportunity to familiarize myself with the variety of current players in the marketplace related to the intersection between healthcare and technology. After having been through this shadowing experience, I now have a better grasp on the state of these fields and how a private company navigates them.
At the beginning of my Princeternship, Mr. Brown explained how Rally fits into the U.S. healthcare system. While Rally offers a variety of software products, what I essentially got out of our discussion was that the company focused primarily on streamlining the healthcare market for consumers and use behavioral psychology to motivate people to live healthier. What was most interesting to me was how the people working in Rally were able to make the enterprise profitable.
One of the first things I noticed was how casual and friendly the office environment was. The most interesting part of the office was the fact that the conference rooms were all named after superhero characters. This environment made it very easy to engage in conversations with other employees there, and through them, I learned about the variety of career paths that led them to Rally. For example, after speaking with David Dempsey ’00, I learned about the legal team’s large presence in the office. I also learned about the career path of another employee currently directing graphic design and other art related projects, all essential to the company’s marketing and user experience. As I walked through the office with Mr. Brown, I was amazed by the variety of work occurring simultaneously, as the leadership sat on desks right next to software developers and lawyers.
Throughout the day, Mr. Brown took me to back-to-back meetings with other departments of the company in addition to third-party organizations related to healthcare technology. It was an eye-opening to see how interrelated and diverse the market was behind the scenes in healthcare. At our first “town hall” meeting, I sat with office heads to overhear discussions about renovations to increase office space and accommodate the ever-increasing size of the company. I sat in on calls between Mr. Brown and a prospective partner company discussing a product to improve sleep health. Mr. Brown also gave me an opportunity to sit in on a meeting with a contact working on a weight loss software tool. Throughout it all, Mr. Brown was always imparting advice about career development in the private sector and effectively managing projects in an unstructured, novel environment.
Before this Princeternship, I admittedly knew very little about the healthcare system and the world of software firms working behind direct consumers to develop intermediate products. After this experience, I know that there is much more than what meets the eye in the healthcare market. Now, I can appreciate the data management, analytics and partnerships that take place each time I visit my doctor. Most importantly, my career possibilities have expanded significantly, as I got to meet people working on projects and fields I never heard of before, using their knowledge in ways I could not have imagined. While I went into the internship looking for exposure in how applied technology could lead to healthcare solutions, I found myself learning a lot about the vast machinery in the operations of a company in a burgeoning market.
All in all, I would highly recommend anyone to get involved with the Princeternship program. I think that there is much more to learn from an actual working environment than what is in textbooks, and education tends to overlook the operations of a private company almost entirely. I would like to thank Charles Brown for his time, advice, and willingness to allow such a great shadowing experience.
Interested in applying for a Princeternship? Visit: http://bit.ly/princeternship2018.