An Inaugural Experience for an Inaugural Intern

It’s safe to say, you never know how far sharing a simple hello will take you. That is how I found my beginnings at Ketchum.  

Near the end of my undergraduate education, I developed an interest in public health marketing and communications. I recognized the value of using these disciplines to educate and inform the public about relevant health topics and made it my intention to be a leader in this industry. 


As a soon-to-be graduate with a Master of Public Health degree and a prior degree in health promotion, I wanted to know more about what health marketing and communications entailed. Leveraging the power of LinkedIn, I sent requests for connections, said my hellos, and waited for those who could tell me more. 

One of the connections I made was with Ketchum’s senior vice president, Health Equity, Valarie Clark. After a brief exchange of messages, we scheduled a time to meet virtually, and the rest is history. 

Stepping Into the Health Equity Intern Role 

Over the course of my winter break, I had the opportunity to serve as the first intern in Ketchum’s inaugural health equity internship. Being new to agency life, I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, I was up for the challenge and took on the role with an open mind. 

While serving as an intern, I was able to complete a variety of assignments and tasks mostly related to health equity, but also in other areas of public health. One of my favorite assignments was assisting with a health equity panel discussion that was presented by Ketchum. It was timely — as health equity has become everyone’s business to hear from leaders in health equity and gain their insights on the work being done in this space. 

 I was fortunate enough to be able to work with several teams within the healthcare portfolio and alongside junior and senior staff members, who offered their own unique projects and allowed me to put my undergraduate and graduate education into practice.  

Lessons Learned and Skills Gained 

Through completing assignments and tasks, I was able to gain valuable knowledge and skills that could translate well into my future career. First and foremost, I learned that communications agency life is quick and ever changing, and one must be diligent to thrive in this field. For example, on a given day, it may start out with no meetings, minimal tasks and a slower pace. However, by noon, the calendar is filling up with meetings and several assignments are needing to be completed by the end of day … or sometimes within the hour. Nonetheless, this kept the experience engaging. 

From this health equity internship, the list of skills I gained, and the lessons learned is endless. Most notably, I strengthened my belief that communications plays a key role in public health. Communications can support positive health outcomes, give attention to the most vulnerable populations in need and educate about pressing public health issues. The overall internship experience strengthened my conviction in health communications, but most notably it was from observing the efforts taking place by the teams at Ketchum.

Another valuable lesson learned was that in an industry as vast as public health, more specifically public health communications, it can feel as though there is no opportunity for those in lower ranking positions to have an impact or be involved in efforts related to positive change. My internship at Ketchum proved this belief to be dramatically wrong. As an intern, I felt the recognition of the value of what I brought to the table within the healthcare portfolio and beyond. My skills, knowledge and experience were respected, and I was encouraged to demonstrate them each day, no matter the individuals or teams that I was working with.

What the Future Holds 

During my time in the health equity internship at Ketchum, I solidified my desire to be in this space following the conclusion of my collegiate education. Public health communication holds great value in supporting positive health outcomes and there are so many opportunities for making an impact within this field.  

Ketchum goes beyond what is expected to support not only overall health, but equitable health — which is desperately needed today. With this experience under my belt, I’m excited to transition into my full-time role as a Ketchum account coordinator following graduation in May. 

I am confident in knowing that this experience has prepared me for what comes next, and I am optimistic about what the future holds. All in all, I owe Ketchum great credit for supplying me with a unique and valuable real-world experience. 

Lacey Teal is a soon-to-be graduate with a Master of Public Health. Previously serving as Ketchum’s Inaugural Health Equity Intern and now Account Coordinator, she has a passion for using her education, skills, and experience within the setting of a larger organization, to actively contribute to notable change within the public health sector and beyond. Lacey has a strong interest in public health marketing and communications focused on health equity, in which she strives to educate and inform on a multitude of platforms about prominent health issues and topics. Now more than ever, recognizing a demand for those who are educated in public health, she is eager to continue her early career in this field.