Three Things I Learned through My Experience with OhanaHealth | by: Nicole Mintz
My journey with OhanaHealth dates back to December 31st, 2018, when the OhanaHealth Application was due. In my junior year, this was the first opportunity I’d seen seamlessly combining my interests in innovation and healthcare in the start-up space, so I temporarily put winter break shenanigans on hold. As a result, I made it through the first round of the assessment process. And as a byproduct, I created the ridiculous image below as a supplemental visual to the application question, “If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be and what would you serve?” You’ll see below that it is indeed an eclectic group, but I can explain!
A few goofy but insightful questions later, I found myself in the video interview phase of the application process. My desire to be an OhanaHealth Fellow was unmatched. I genuinely believed that I was the perfect fit for Ohana, and that this program was the growth opportunity that I needed. To say I was devastated after my rejection from Ohana would be an understatement.
The hiring cycle of start-up companies is unpredictable, and it seemed that certain company partners pulled out before I had a chance to be placed. I’ve been rejected many times from professional opportunities; I think we all have. (“Rejection is confirmation that you are leaving your comfort zone and reaching for opportunities that may require persistence, growth, or a deviation from your current path.”) This rejection letter felt different. It was less a blow to my ego, but instead a catalyst to the realization that I was determined to spend my summer with a program at least similar to Ohana.
The email from Ohana was empathetic and personal, a sharp contrast to the system-generated automatic rejection emails I’d received in the past. I am unsure of what exactly prompted my next action. It may have been the personal nature of Daniel’s email, my certainty that I would find happiness and excitement in this space, or perhaps just desperation, but I responded to Daniel’s email. I thanked Ohana for their consideration and for striving to create opportunities for students like me.
I have always found joy in bringing people together. In my professional experiences, this has translated to the formation of strategic partnerships between local start-ups, student organizations, and even friend groups. I also have experience in customer service and sales, which I now realize are transferable to every other position I’ve held. If there wasn’t space for me at an Ohana company partner, I theorized I could use my skills and experience to find more company partners.
In my follow-up email thanking OhanaHealth for their consideration, I subtly proposed this idea. To my surprise, Ohana was curious about this possibility as well. Within the next few weeks, I hopped on a call with the same friendly face that first introduced Ohana in my video interview. By the beginning of the summer, my reality transformed. I became an intern for OhanaHealth. Daniel and I formulated this position together, and we agreed to make it dynamic, iterative, and engaging. I have loved every second of it thus far. Reflecting on how my summer internship fell into place and my gratitude for the way things worked out summarizes my first realization in Nashville. If an opportunity doesn’t exist, challenge yourself to create it and capitalize on it.
My favorite experiences to date occurred during our weekend programming in Nashville, TN. All twelve fellows were invited to Nashville from June 20th – 21st to participate in entrepreneurial activities, learn more about the healthcare industry, and experience Nashville, a rapidly growing hub for healthcare entrepreneurship. In the weeks leading up to our trip, I had been in contact with fellows individually to gather travel dates, personal information for content creation, and answer any questions about Ohana programming. After every interaction, I became more and more aware of how incredible each fellow is. This discovery set the stage for my first reflection of the weekend.
We all arrived consecutively on Thursday morning, and we gathered at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, the EC. As fellows arrived, we made introductions and shared our company placements and current projects. Some went to Ivy League schools, were D1 varsity athletes, or had already secured full-time placement post-graduation. More than impressed, I became intimidated. “Imposter Syndrome” occurs when one internally belittles their successes or accomplishments in a manner that delegitimizes an achievement.
Imposter syndrome suppresses one’s drive to create connections and foster collaboration (two of my favorite things). I noticed myself taking a step back in group discussions, not solely for observation, but fueled by fear. I was afraid to say anything redundant, uninformed, or unproductive. Crazy, right? Not only were these fellows some of the most intelligent and accomplished group of young adults I’ve worked with, but they were also beyond inclusive, welcoming, and collaborative.
I had heard everything I needed to hear to move past the “outcast” feeling, but we don’t always interpret feelings rationally in moments of doubt. Day 1 panelist, Jeremy Raley insightfully shared, “Always be the dumbest person in the room.” While this can be interpreted as hyperbolic, it is a refreshing piece of optimism in the earliest stages of a career. Every fellow has unique strengths. I may be the least equipped to engage in a discussion analyzing the performance of Slack’s IPO, but my strengths present themselves at different moments. Even if there was no opportunity for me to employ these strengths, that would be okay because every encounter is a learning opportunity. Don’t doubt why you’re in a room with people who amaze you; turn what triggers intimidation into inspiration. You are there for a reason.
My third and final reflection about OhanaHealth programming is my adoration of Nash, which I will likely expand upon in “An Ode to Nashville.” Weeks later, I am still raving about the contagious happiness that fills the Nashville air. Every conversation ends in an invite. There is no shortage of live music, outdoor activities, and delicious bites on every corner. Nashville residents and visitors alike are thrilled to be in town. The spirit of the city is strong, and I felt energized and adventurous our entire stay. Nashville taught me that our environment and our energy are more connected than we may realize.