Guest Blog by ELP Student Thomas Kidd – School of Information – Class of 2018

The deep end of a pool seems like a dangerous place to begin swim lessons. After all, what happens if you can learn immediately? What happens if you move your limbs like everyone else, but you still start sinking? As explained on Wikipedia, a small amount of water would enter through your trachea and cause a muscular spasm; your airway would then seal to prevent the flow of anything to your lungs, and before long, you would become unconscious and drown. While drowning is always a possibility, resources and support systems allow you to explore the deep end while avoiding an untimely death. Floating devices like kick boards, paddle boards, water wings, and noodles are all great, but a swim instructor is probably the best option. After all, a few lessons and you’ll be swimming all by yourself (no water wings needed).

Settling In:

I may have gone too far with the swimming metaphor. Hopefully it helped you brush up on drowning awareness and set a reminder to buy a new pool noodle for this summer.

I am currently an intern for the Michigan Medicine Office of Development. My job is to research and learn about health hackathons and eventually plan one to happen here in Ann Arbor. My first few days were a combination of getting to know different office resources, navigating bureaucratic pre-employment hoops, and meeting some great people around my workspace. The development office is surprisingly large with well-organized sections and many interdependent departments. Having just finished my fourth day, I have met plenty of people around the office and received a warm welcome from all of them. The culture is relaxed and trusting, respect-oriented, and taken very seriously. Multiple people have asked me if I sought out the development office for the love of non-profits and fundraising, or, even due to a life changing experience with the hospital. Although I cannot relate to those drives, it is apparent that nearly everyone in the office finds purpose in their work.

The Leap:

Beyond settling in and meeting co-workers, I have begun work planning a hackathon. I am still at a very high level doing research and reaching out to student directors at other universities. I am learning a lot already: talk about jumping into the deep end! Recently, I had a Google hangout with two student leaders of MedHacks at Johns Hopkins University. At this point, just knowing what to questions to ask seems just as important as getting the advice and answers. Similarly to how I connected with the students at JHU, I have connected via email with student directors via from MIT Grand Hacks, Yale Healthcare Hacks, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Health hacks, and even a lady from the Journal of the American College of Radiology’s Hackathon. There are still more to go. It is also worth noting @Saraciaramella helped introduce and connect me to multiple people in the MHacks community who have been very willing to set up calls and provide advice. In the spirit of the drowning metaphor, I like to think of my fellow ELP cohort members as an entire arsenal of floating devices capable of keeping me afloat regularly when needed.  

Swim Instructor > Floating device:

I think all students can relate to the constant and sometimes overwhelming stream of emails sent to our accounts. Though possibly a smaller portion, I think many students can also relate to feeling somewhat under-qualified for internships and summer positions listed in email and around campus. In the past, I have avoided opportunities that are not spelled-out well and that have high expectations attached to them. After all, it’s easier to start in the shallow end and exceed expectations.

That said, as entrepreneurial leaders in ELP, our swim instructors teach us very early on that we must be willing to jump into the deep end and fail. They may expect us to bob then submerge at first, but before the water passes through our trachea… our instructors are always there to pull us out of the pool and provide yet another invaluable swim lesson. Although I am not entirely sure yet if I am sinking or swimming in my new summer position, I have enough resources and people around me to have confidence. Looking forward to the rest of the summer!