My Experience as a 16-Year-Old Intern for Health Partnership Clinic

Lily HeffnerBy Lily Heffner, Incoming Senior, Shawnee Mission West High School

I am Lily Heffner, the 2022-2023 marketing intern for Health Partnership Clinic (HPC), and I am an incoming senior at Shawnee Mission West High School.

My internship started when I was recruited by Development and Marketing Manager Debbie Sparks at a Shawnee Mission School District Career Fair in August of 2022. At these career fairs, hosted at the Center for Academic Achievement, corporations and businesses come in, looking to give information to students about potential job offers, shadow opportunities, or internships. Going into the career fair, I was not really looking to get anything; I was only going for the experience. I saw the HPC booth and was drawn to it because along with filming, I am also interested in nursing. After talking to Debbie and exchanging information, I was interviewed by Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing and Outreach, and offered the marketing internship.

Even though I was aware of the School-Based Health Clinic at West, I soon learned that few students at Shawnee Mission West, including myself, really knew what HPC was. Through this internship, I gained professional knowledge and experienced firsthand how HPC operates at Shawnee Mission West.

What made the Clinic special to me is how much it is focused on providing quality health care to people in the community who would not otherwise be able to afford it. During the interviews, I got to ask HPC staff questions about how the Clinic runs, and it was heart-warming to find out that the Clinic has many options for people with and without insurance and can even help families set up a payment plan to pay for their medical expenses.

During my internship, I also learned about the importance of networking. Before I could film and edit the video, I was emailing many nurses, directors, doctors, teachers and HPC staff about when and where to film, what was expected of me, and who to talk to. Surprisingly, this took more time than the filming and editing did. It was an incredible opportunity to be able to talk to Paula Bunde, Coordinator of Health Services for Shawnee Mission School District, as well as the sweet and very knowledgeable pediatrician, Cheri El-Halawany, MD, FAAP.

I really enjoyed this internship because it was very individual, and I learned a lot because of this. Since I was younger, I have always been one to figure things out on my own, and this internship was a big step-up of that. My assignment was to make a video publicizing the Clinic at West. With this assignment, I was given all my resources and full creative control. It was challenging to jump into this video without any real guidelines or deadlines, just a task to complete. It taught me how projects like this are made in the real world, and I am incredibly grateful to the supportive team who taught me this and helped me achieve it. The project started out as an idea between the Marketing team and I, and now it has expanded into a video that I am proud to say I created. The video will be shared with all families and staff of Shawnee Mission West and the school district and on HPC’s website and YouTube channel.

Catherine oversaw my project and was a massive help to me. Thanks to her, I acquired my first internship and developed many skills that I will use in my future academic and career goals and journeys. This video also would not have been possible without friends and filming assistants Sullivan Tavernaro and Sydney Knoche, as well as my encouraging father and music maker, Scott Heffner.

This internship with HPC has made me many valuable connections and mentors and has taught me a plethora of lessons that I will continue to cherish as I continue my schooling and professional pursuits.