Through a part-time job, Megan Lisch cultivated a relationship with the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration’s Office of Healthy Opportunities and knew she wanted an internship experience with the team. But at the time, a position didn’t exist.
“I happened to be in a meeting with one of the representatives from the office, and I just introduced myself,” Lisch said. “I was very direct. I shared that I was an MPH student and had an interest in potentially working with the team. I then forwarded my resume and waited to see what could happen from that initial conversation.”
Lisch said she is normally not that direct of a person, but after doing her research, she wanted an opportunity with the team.
“I’ve found that if you want something, you may not find it in a job posting or application. You have to network, even if you are reaching out to people you don’t know. It worked out, and I’m very fortunate that it did.”
Lisch was offered a position in February and was excited to begin her internship in May. But when the COVID-19 pandemic began impacting the state in March, her future supervisor asked her to start early. “I received a call on Spring Break, asking if I could start early, because the projects they were working on were quite large and needed more manpower,” Lisch said.
Lisch helped the team launch a Food Assistance Availability Map, which is a small piece of Operation Food, a project addressing food insecurity in Indiana.
“My task was to source the data from all of the food banks in Indiana and make it digestible,” said Lisch. “I’ve been working with a very skilled team in GIS mapping, and we were able to make the map public by the end of my first week.”
The site is designed to help individuals find available food resources nearby. “It was surprising building the map and seeing visually that a lot of our rural counties that are more to the corners of the state don’t have a lot of food pantries or meal sites. I’ve been crowdsourcing to try and find more of the locally known food pantries. I worry about individuals living in those areas, so I’m trying to include as many sites as possible.”
In May 2021, Lisch will graduate with her masters of public health, with a concentration in health policy and management. After graduation, she has her eyes set on staying in Indiana and working in a governmental role. During the pandemic, she has appreciated seeing the collaboration supporting public health in the state, which she hopes will last.
“The whole idea that we are in this together is something I have observed during my short term as an intern. Unfortunately, it has taken a pandemic for these partnerships to be established, but because of it, it’s something that will be sustained as we recover from COVID-19.”