Graciela Lopez pictured in front of Buckingham Palace

My Journey From Not Considering a Career in Healthcare to My Dream Internship at Publicis Health

By Graciela Lopez, Project Management Intern, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness

When I was 11-years-old, I mapped out my entire life. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I grew up. Now, here I am — 21-years-old, and it’s safe to say my plans have changed. After changing career paths three times and having six different jobs in different industries, I’ve finally figured out exactly where I want to spend the next 40-plus years of my life. Granted, that’s a bold statement, but I’m on my way to having it all together.

Last month, I started a project management internship at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness (SSW), a creative agency within Publicis Health. Prior to the internship, I was planning a career in general marketing. Now, I’m dreaming of a career in pharma/health advertising.

How did I get to this realization? Well, here’s a monthly breakdown of my journey:

February 2019

The beginning of my second semester of my junior year. By next spring, I would need a full-time job to fulfill the “prophecy” — in other words, I would become a real-life adult. Around this same time, my friend tells me he’s trying to organize an office visit at Publicis Health. I think to myself, What the heck is Publicis Health? However, my curiosity gets the best of me and I decide to tag along for the visit.

March 2019

Let the office visit commence. 20 of my classmates and I get together in downtown Manhattan and make the commute to 1675 Broadway. Publicis Health’s office is breathtaking, and not to mention, the office is so picturesque. Instagrammers could have a field day here.

After getting a feel for the office, Lori DePace, Early Careers Program Manager, speaks to us about Publicis Health’s summer internship program. I quickly learn it’s one of the top 100 internship programs in the country — OK, wow. Next, Sam O’Donnell, Talent Programs Coordinator and former Publicis Health intern, tells us how her project management internship at SSW greatly enhanced her entire post-college job search. She talked about project management and how it’s satisfying to see a project come to fruition from start to finish. Immediately, a light bulb illuminates in my head as I think about my own gratification from seeing projects through from beginning to end.

Before gaining insights from Sam, I had no idea project management was a career path, but I find myself thinking about it obsessively. By the end of the visit, I’m determined to apply and get into the internship program.

April 2019

Ah, finals. A stressful time with many 9 pm coffee runs. To add to exam-time, it’s also a popular time for internship interviews — and I have one with SSW. Although I’m deep in study mode, I’m also consumed with nerves, excitement, and hope to finalize my summer plans at Publicis Health. By mid-April, I get the good news. I receive an offer to be a project management intern at Publicis Health.

May 2019

Update: finals are done, and I somehow make I through the stressful weeks and the 9 pm coffee runs. Life is good. With less than a month away, I’m anticipating my first day at Publicis Health.

June 2019 — Present

The first day. I meet my inspiring manager, Tiffany. I’m immediately inundated with FDA guideline training, webinars, process overviews, learning decks, and a lot of acronyms.

The first few days, I learn more about the advertising process than I could have by reading a textbook. I quickly realize an internship at Publicis Health is much more than just its accolades. It’s interning with purpose. It’s great collaborative effort (shout out to my awesome intern project team). Above all, it’s eye-opening. For a good part of the year, I applied to hundreds of internships across the marketing industry. I was rejected. I was interviewed. I was given offers. But in every application, every rejection, every interview, and every offer, Publicis Health was the only program that made me feel something — I was interning with purpose.

With a couple of weeks under my belt at SSW, I’m helping my manager with her day-to-day responsibilities that, at first glance, seem overwhelming and intimidating. Do I stumble a few times? Certainly. But do I learn? Absolutely. As the weeks pass and I feel more comfortable in my role, I begin to self-reflect.

As I continue to acclimate to a new work environment filled with new responsibilities and endless learnings, I realize I found my dream internship.

Present — Future

Ultimately, I learned a great deal from everyone I met at Publicis Health. Whether it was a quick one-on-one chat with a colleague in the café, or a mentor I gained over the course of my internship, I learned people’s names, faces, and their inspiring stories. I found myself and my purpose. As I plan for my future and seek a full-time job, I know I am no longer in the midst of yet another career change.

So, while I don’t have my life mapped out like I did as an 11-year-old, I know I’m steps closer to where I need to be, thanks to Publicis Health.

Graciela was also featured in We Are Next, an open resource for students and junior talent, in the Intern Fieldnotes series. To listen to Graciela’s minisode in We Are Next, click here.

Graciela Lopez is a 2019 Project Management Intern at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness in New York. She is a rising senior at Baruch College pursuing a degree in Marketing Management. Graciela is passionate about long-distance running, health and wellness, and blogging! When she’s not at work, Graciela can be found making fun smoothies, watching a Mets game, or keeping up with the latest fashion trends. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Publicis Health is the largest healthcare communications network in the world. We are a part of Publicis Groupe S.A.