Skip to main content

Helping Students Understand Where an MS in Health Communication Can Lead

As the associate director of EPICS (the External Programs Internships and Career Services office), Kimberley Cornwell is known by MS in Health Communication students as a coach, mentor, cheerleader, and supporter.

She’s also the organizer behind the program’s Proseminar course: an opportunity for students to engage with subject-matter experts in health and health communication.

Sourcing 100% of the speakers herself, Cornwell stays on top of trends and identifies possible leads by reading blogs and magazines, attending conferences, subscribing to newsletters, listening to the radio and podcasts, and asking students and colleagues for recommendations.

“I try to mirror what students are experiencing in the classroom and also look for speakers from all different areas within healthcare and health communication,” she explains. “We have people coming into the program who are fresh out of undergraduate and others with 20 or 25 years of experience, so I want to make sure we provide something for everyone.”

Because meeting students in person hasn’t been an option this year, she sets up virtual meetings with each member of the cohort to learn more about their background, goals, and stories. Doing this helps build the foundation for a relationship that lasts beyond graduation.

At the beginning of each academic year, she encourages the cohort to view Proseminar as a period of discovery. Even if the speaker doesn’t resonate with everyone in the room that day, she says it’s very possible that what they share may be useful a few years down the road. Cornwell also asks students to write two reflection papers to help them process and describe what they learned.

“It always excites me when a student says, ‘I didn’t know this was part of healthcare. I didn’t know there were jobs in this area.’ That’s the point—to expose them to different possibilities and see the ways this degree can be deployed.” She also encourages students to reach out to speakers for one-on-one interaction; students have even landed jobs after making such connections.

When she’s not busy looking for experts to share their stories, Cornwell also leads the program’s Experiential Learning Credit course during summer quarter and delivers professional development workshops, including co-facilitation of Professional Skills for International Students with Dr. Kimberly Pusateri.

Finally, it’s Cornwell’s goal to coach students through the job-search process. She constantly analyzes and expands the pool of employers that may want to consider working with Northwestern MS in Health Communication students. “Through these relationships, I can speak to what today’s hiring managers want,” she says.

From preparing for career pivots and dealing with rejection to helping students articulate the value they bring to employers, she wants them all to feel prepared for whatever they encounter as they search for new opportunities.

“When you’re looking for the right job, you know what’s in it for you,” says Cornwell, “but employers want to know the very same thing. What can you do for them? I help students figure out how to explain what they’ve gained from this degree, life experiences, and previous jobs that will entice companies to hire them.”

She says that each of her own professional experiences—from working in headhunting and recruitment to working in healthcare at a community hospital—has helped shape her advice and guidance.