Kaitlin Winslow working on a laptop in cafeteria

Internship launches career in health care industry

Human development and family studies graduate Kaitlin Winslow joined Primary Health Network’s human resources department for her capstone project, an emotional-intelligence lunch-and-learn series for managers across the state. The internship concluded with a job offer for a full-time position at PHN.

SHARON, Pa. — When Kaitlin Winslow attended her first capstone preparation course in January 2020, no one could have predicted the path to landing a job with Primary Health Network less than a year later.

“Last January I was excited about the possibilities,” said Winslow, a December 2020 graduate of Penn State Shenango’s human development and family studies program. “I didn’t even know that the human resources field was an option with my degree.”

“HDFS taught me how interconnected everything is,” said Winslow. “Most HR professionals have a business degree, but I think having a unique background sets me apart. Plus, understanding mental health is helpful working in a health care organization.”

As part of the preparation course, Winslow met with Tina Adamson, vice president of human resources at Primary Health Network, and the two decided that Winslow would deliver a system-wide lunch and learn series that focused on emotional intelligence (otherwise known as emotional quotient or EQ).

“The series was called ‘Bite Sized Learning,’” said Winslow. “It provided an opportunity to learn about EQ and how to lead others with these skills. EQ is a large predictor of success among employees, so Tina thought that this would be a great topic for managers.”

The series was originally going to be available to managers at the Sharon location, but switching to a Zoom delivery opened the program up to the whole organization. “I foresee this becoming a more common format. We had great participation," said Winslow.

In addition to facilitating professional development on EQ and substance abuse warning signs, Winslow also learned tactics to understand and overcome organizational challenges. She worked with Adamson to analyze data on communities Primary Health Network serves, recognized employee demographics and reviewed COVID-19 trends.

Winslow was awarded a Penn State Student Engagement Network (SEN) Remote Innovation Grant to assist with expenses. “The grant allowed me to be present in this professional experience, and to not focus on the stress of costs that can incur," she said.

The SEN grant emphases student growth in five key areas: multicultural awareness, civic responsibility, ethical leadership, systems thinking and professional development.

“This internship was a perfect blend of the grant’s competencies and PHN’s mission to provide the best care to every population, no matter their obstacle,” said Winslow. “I think facilitating professional development is a wonderful way to help others reach career goals. The HDFS program has taught me that specialized trainings can not only lead humans be competent in a topic, but it also allows them to personally and professionally excel.”

In December 2020, Winslow accepted a full-time position in Primary Health Network’s human resources department and plans to peruse a master’s of business administration with a focus in health care.

“I’m up for the challenge. I’ve realized how much health care is transforming and I want to help make decisions on how it is going to change.”