Van Dam, the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, found that working in a hospital environment at an early age boosted her confidence about pursuing a health career.
As a nursing student at Northeastern, I knew that it was difficult for new graduates to get hired without having some experience under their belt. I was lucky enough to be part of a high school internship program at Boston’s Children Hospital that introduced teens to nursing career opportunities.
This was my first step into health care, and I found out about the training and education necessary to be a nurse. I made it my goal to complete more internships, gain skills, make important connections, and bring more to the table than a diploma when I graduated. I did a coop on the surgical medical floor at Tufts Medical Center as a clinical assistant, and then applied to again Children’s Hospital to do my clinical pediatric rotation there and stayed for three more coops.
As graduation neared and it was time to take my nursing board exams, I spoke to my nurse manager about coming on permanently as a staff nurse.
It’s been a year now since I was hired full-time at Children’s Hospital, and I have since completed the orientation program for newly minted RNs. I’m so glad that I set goals from the get-go and built relationships that made it possible to get a job right away in a difficult economy.
My family came over from Vietnam when I was very young, and my parents have always expected that I work hard, contribute financially, and succeed in whatever endeavor I choose. I love being a nurse and I’m glad I got an early jumpstart into my career. No matter old you are or what field you’re in, getting some early experience in the industry is always a great idea. Volunteering, internships, or shadowing professionals can be a time of discovery and navigation, when interests, passions, and strengths can be nurtured if you let yourself soak up what’s around you.