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Alumni Connections

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Kate van der Sloot 2017

Location: Manhasset, NY
Major: Business (BA) and Health Policy (BA)
Company: Northwell Health
Title: Associate, Financial and Operations Management

What advice or tips do you have for students exploring different careers?

Network. As soon as possible. By building your network early, you create an opportunity for yourself to explore careers through other people's experiences. This is incredibly important for several reasons: you learn about career possibilities you may have never otherwise known about, you learn what you like, and you learn what you don't like. Ask questions.

Shadow. You would be surprised at how many people are more than willing to have you follow them around at work. When you shadow, study not only the person you are shadowing, but also the colleagues they interact with. Ask questions when appropriate and always follow-up. This is such a great way to not only explore potential careers, but to begin building a professional network that can only continue branching out. Never be afraid to ask to shadow someone--the worst thing they can say is no.

Read. Add a news app on your phone, read your local newspaper, or follow industry news sites. By knowing what's going on in the world, you also have a better idea of what is out there for you to explore. Increasing your knowledge of an industry will also help you stand out in interviews, help you personalize cover letters, and give you a better idea of what you're looking for in a career.

What has been your career path and how does your current profession relate to what you did in college?

My initial interests during my early collegiate career were in finance and accounting. I wasn't completely sure what I wanted to do with either of these, but an early mentor advised focusing in these two areas as a great starting point. Following his advice, I sought out a finance internship after my sophomore year of college. I worked under a financial manager and Rochester Wealth Management, LLC. My boss worked primarily in annuities and retirement planning. Though I decided that retirement planning did not end up being my desired path, I still made some important discoveries over the course of my internship: I was still interested in finance, but I wanted to work for a bigger company, in a bigger city, and in a different financial field.

During my junior year, I found this financial field. By randomly taking some public health courses, I gained a strong interest in health policy. Combined with my business major, my new found health policy major inspired me to look into healthcare consulting and healthcare administration internships for the following summer. Through the help of my personal mentors and networking, I landed my dream job at Northwell Health in their Healthcare Management Program (HMP) internship at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH). In this internship, the NSUH team introduced me to the world of healthcare finance and management.

This internship solidified my interest in this industry. At the end of the internship, I interviewed with multiple locations within Northwell Health for their Management Associate Program (MAP). At the beginning of my senior year, I had the pleasure of accepting the position of Associate, Financial and Operations Management at North Shore University Hospital as part of MAP. This two-year program would allow me to continue in my exploration of finance, project management, quality, and patient experience. This position began the summer of 2017.

Is there anything you wish you would have done differently while at the University of Rochester or post-graduation that would have helped along your way?

I am very happy with the trajectory of my career while at UR; however, there are certainly some things I could have done differently.  I really wish I would have gotten my foot in the door of finance a little bit earlier than I did. Many freshman believe it is impossible to get internships so early, but you would be surprised at how willing people are to teach you if you are only willing to ask. Even if the internship is an unpaid, and maybe not exactly what you are looking to do with the rest of your life, the experience will still far surpass the pay you would otherwise receive.

How do you define success and what makes work meaningful to you?

Sometimes, I think success is misconstrued as goal achieving. It's great to set goals and work hard to reach them; however, sometimes being too goal-oriented at a young age can create tunnel vision and distract you from other opportunities that are sitting right in front of you. Instead, I suggest having direction, or a way in which you would like to see your life go. Focus on getting there, rather than on the actual destination. As a result of this mentality, I see success as every milestone reached in the direction of a potentially unknown destination. These milestones can be as simple as doing well in a very difficult class, discovering fields you like, discovering fields you dislike, landing that first internship... But these milestones can also be defined by how you respond to the inevitable failures on the way, or by recognizing when maybe your original direction might need to change.

There are three reasons I find my work meaningful. First, I love the industry I'm involved with. I love thinking about it, reading about it, and participating in it. By being in an industry that gets me fired up, it's a lot easier to create value for other people as well. Second, my job gives me the opportunity to make the lives of patients, doctors, and administrators a little bit easier. In doing so, I hope to indirectly improve patient experience within my hospital, whether it is in a small way or a big way. Lastly, I look forward to working with the HMP internship program. Mentoring future interns will likely be one of the most fulfilling parts of my job; there is no point in having insight and knowledge if you aren't ready and willing to pass it along to future leaders. I am so excited to act as resource to these future healthcare administrators.