Spotlight on National Intern Day: MSW Intern, Heidi Muñoz

In honor of this year’s #NationalInternDay, we are proud to spotlight former NHF intern, Heidi Muñoz. Heidi is a recent graduate of Azusa Pacific University who obtained her Master’s of Social Work with a specialization in Program Administration and Community Leadership this past spring.  She worked with NHF in the 2019-2020 school year completing her Master of Social Work (MSW) internship.

She recently took the time to share more about her experience interning with NHF.

Describe your role as an intern at NHF.

As a macro MSW intern, my primary role was to manage a quality assurance project for National Health Foundation’s Recuperative Care program. My role was to identify areas of strength and improvement for the program by conducting an organizational self-assessment. I oversaw the function of bi-weekly work groups to review findings and feedback, facilitating tasks and maintaining the flow of communication between work group members. Sadly, due to COVID-19, my involvement in the project was cut short. However, the amount of personal and professional growth gained from working on this project was invaluable.

I also had the unique opportunity as the President & CEO’s intern to participate in high-level meetings. I was able to attend board member retreats, monthly manager meetings, fiscal meetings, tour with potential business partners at NHF’s Recuperative Care sites, read program proposals and witness the day-to-day operations of what it takes to run a non-profit organization.

What inspired you to apply to NHF?

Prior to applying to NHF I had been working at a back-to-work shelter for families with minor children experiencing homelessness. Although the shelter provided critical resources for immediate assistance, I quickly realized that if I wanted to create change and address the cycles of inequity, I had to think big picture. That is why my heart now lies in taking action on systemic change among under-resourced communities.

I was also inspired by NHF’s mission and vision and immediately knew I wanted to join a team that creates upstream solutions that employs empathy and social justice as its pillars. I love that NHF’s community approach is to partner with residents to address local issues and not to assume that NHF knows what is best for the community. 

Lastly, the main reason why I was excited to apply was because of NHF President & CEO, Kelly Bruno. It’s not often that you see a female social worker in an executive role and much less as the President & CEO!  I knew it would be a golden opportunity to learn from someone who shared a similar macro social work lens. Also, Kelly attended Azusa Pacific University, as did I, so it was definitely a motivating factor!

What are the three key takeaways from your internship with NHF?

My three takeaways include:

Developing Managing Skills

  • As a future leader in the social work profession, it was important for me to learn how to manage projects among colleagues at all levels.

Organizations Must Value Employees

  • Seeing an organization like NHF, continuously investing in its employees, demonstrated how valuing employees motivates them and contributes to employee happiness at work.

The Importance of Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI)

  • In order to truly address the social determinants of health, it is necessary for an organization to do internal work to better understand the roots of the systemic challenges of the communities it serves.

What was your favorite part about interning with NHF?

It’s difficult to choose just one thing because I honestly enjoyed my entire nine month experience at NHF. However, the one thing that stands out the most is the organization’s culture and how intentional they are in cultivating a diverse, equitable and inclusive work environment. NHF is equipped with a diverse team of genuinely good hearted people and I will forever be grateful for the connections made during my time as an intern. 

What advice do you have for future interns or prospective employees looking into the field of social work?

Social work is a broad profession and I encourage others to learn about opportunities outside of micro-practice, like engaging whole communities, policy-making and program administration. I am confident that more social workers can and should be in leadership roles – just like Kelly.