How I got this job: Valentina Djordjevic Physician Assistant

During Spring Quarter 2021, the Health Care & Science Career Community team sat down with DePaul students to learn about the educational and career journey of DePaul alum, Valentina Djordjevic (Health Sciences, ‘16). After completing the Physician Assistant (PA) program at Rosalind Franklin University, she is now a PA-C at Able Psychiatry. Valentina shared her story of gaining research, work, volunteer, and clinical experiences while at DePaul, deciding to pursue a career as a PA, her current job responsibilities, and her future career goals. In this event, Valentina highlighted what being a PA means to her and the importance of pursuing your passions.

Words of wisdom from Valentina Djordjevic

Valentina on deciding to become a PA:

“For me it was pretty easy to be a PA because it was quick. Two years seemed pretty doable for me. It offered me the opportunity to work in multiple specialties which I liked at that time because I wasn’t exactly sure that I wanted to be in psychiatry. The GRE also seemed more doable than the MCAT for me. I also liked that there wasn’t a residency requirement for PA school. I really liked that I could get this degree and then start working right away. I wanted to stay in the sciences. I wanted to help people. I wanted to be financially independent and be able to have a good income. I think it was a pretty easy decision for me to go into the PA track.” 

Valentina on the importance of mentoring for a PA:

“A piece of advice about post-PA school is that you really want to find a job where you will be taught. There are a ton of opportunities for PAs out there, and they seem really appealing. They’re going to throw a lot of money at you, and just be careful that they don’t throw you out to the wolves because PA school is really fast. You’re getting this degree with the hope that you’ll be trained really well at your first job, but if you aren’t, you’re gonna have a huge stunt in your growth. It’s really important to have a mentor: someone that you can ask questions to, someone that is expecting you to not know what you’re doing. If it’s a good growth opportunity, that might be better than a more appealing pay stub at the end of the day because if you get good training, you can go anywhere.”

Meet Mai Hong, Senior Operations Program Manager at Teladoc Health

Here at the Health Care & Science Career Community, we want to introduce students to a wide range of careers in those industries. Students may be familiar with popular clinical roles (nurse, physician, veterinarian), but not with jobs like healthcare data analytics or administration, or biotech research.  

Livongo & Teladoc Health (a recently merged company) is “transforming the healthcare experience and empowering people everywhere to live healthier lives.”  Teladoc is a leader in telehealth, or virtual healthcare, providing virtual primary health care, mental health and chronic care management (including diabetes, high blood pressure and weight loss).    

Mai Hong is Senior Operations Program Manager at Teladoc, and recently offered her advice to current students interested in careers in healthcare startups, as well as health administration & management and health data, analytics and informatics (learn more about these industries here!)

Q: Can you explain what your job is? What do you do on a daily/weekly basis?
A: I’m a Senior Operations Program Manager. On a daily basis, I work with our eligibility department to make sure that we’re enrolling members. On a weekly basis, I work cross-functionally with other teams to set up clients and figure out how to scale operations as our company grows.

Q: What do you find most rewarding about your job? 
A: We’re a young company so everything we do is figuring out: how are we as a company going to do this? It’s a lot of fun to create things from scratch. There are no playbooks so we can be really creative and innovative about how we approach things

Q: What do you find most challenging? 
A: We’re growing very quickly so the other part of my job is to build things out that are scalable. So what we build today that works when we have 100 members, will it work tomorrow when we have 1000 members?

Q: Looking back, what were your most meaningful experiences from undergrad/grad school? (Internships, jobs, classes, student organizations, etc) 
A: I participated in hackathons during grad school and it made me realize I love working in fast paced environments that come up with out-of-the-box solutions. It also helped me understand how to put together pitches that would appeal to stakeholders.

Q: What advice do you have for students looking to enter biotech/health tech/health startup worlds? 
A: Ask a lot of questions! Health startups move quickly so there’s a lot of value in people that can get up to speed quickly and ask critical questions. 

Interested in learning more? Check out careers at Teladoc and careers at Livongo.  Learn more about careers in health care and science here!

What’s your MCAT plan?

Are you planning to attend medical school? If so, it’s probably no surprise that a strong MCAT score—among other attributes and experiences—will be an important part of ensuring that you are a competitive applicant.

Studying for the MCAT though is no easy feat. Many students spend months preparing. Some will engage in self-study; utilizing books, class notes, and flash cards. While others opt for in-person or online courses through test preparation companies like Kaplan, Examkrackers, or Princeton Review. Additionally, Internet-based options range from free sites, such as Khan Academy, to fee-based resources like the official MCAT practice questions and tests.

With all of these options, deciding how to best prepare for such a high-stakes exam can be a difficult decision. Consider this:

The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) reminds students that, “There’s no right or wrong way to prepare for the MCAT exam.”

“There’s no right or wrong way to prepare for the MCAT exam.”

It’s true. The first step in devising your plan should be to reflect on how you best learn and retain information. To read about how successful MCAT examinees prepared, check out the testimonials the AAMC hosts on its website. You might just find the inspiration you need.

And, if you haven’t already, be sure to meet with Lindsey Burdick, the university’s Pre-Health Advisor. Lindsey is an expert in all things medical school, and can help you to navigate the larger preparation and application processes. Remember, the MCAT is just one aspect of your application. From deciding when to take the exam, to thinking through co-curricular activities and course planning, Lindsey is well suited to guide you as you aim to strengthen your profile as an applicant.

To meet with Lindsey, contact the College of Science and Health’s Office of Advising and Student Services at (773) 325-8490.

What to Expect From a Scientific Research Internship

By: Nina Pelsi, DePaul University health sciences major ’19

Once I landed my first internship freshman year, I was ecstatic. As part of DePaul’s Undergraduate Summer Research Program (USRP) of the College of Science and Health, I was chosen to work with a former professor of mine, Dr. Kim Amer, who I respect immensely. With decades of experience working as a registered nurse, Dr. Amer had extensive advice and knowledge in science and medicine to offer.

So, what did I learn from my first research position? Managing expectations is key. Here is what you should (and shouldn’t) expect from your first scientific research experience:

1. Don’t expect to change the world or cure cancer. I’m not trying to burst your bubble, but this is unlikely to be the research that catapults you into fame and success in science. Instead, expect to learn a lot about the research process itself, and you will come away with boatloads of applicable knowledge on how to find what you’re looking for and present it in a meaningful way.

2. Expect to sift through dozens and dozens of unrelated and possibly unhelpful articles before finding one that aligns with what you’re looking for. Throughout this entire summer, Dr. Amer and I only found 20 articles to analyze for our review of literature. This is normal! Remember, quality trumps quantity in scientific research.

3. Expect it to be challenging and time-consuming, but equallyif not morerewarding. Research is very much a process; it’s going to take a long time to conduct initial research, compile the information into figures and/or charts, interpret and analyze results, draw conclusions, and put together a written, oral, or visual display. This last step is when you finally get to see that all of your hard work has paid off, and it is one of the best feelings!

Good luck! I hope this advice helps you mentally prepare for your research position and get the very most out of your experience.

DePaul Diaries: Life as a Global Brigader

By: Renee Radzom, DePaul University graduate, former University Internship Program (UIP) assistant

DePaul Diaries is a day-in-the-life blog series written by DePaul students. The series unveils DePaulians’ experiences as interns in their field of choice. Students share their honest thoughts about their experiences, what they learned as an intern and advice for students who are interested in the same field.

Are you interested in helping rural communities in underdeveloped nations? Do you want to have hands-on experience in the health, business, human rights or environmental industries?

Brendan ComuzziThe Global Brigades at DePaul give you this opportunity while spending time in another country and making a difference in people’s lives. Brendan Comuzzi, biology major, current co-president for the DePaul Chapter and former water brigade program director, answered some questions to demystify the program.

What is Global Brigades?

Global Brigades is the largest non-profit student-led global health and sustainable development organization in the world. Global “Brigaders” are college students who go on 1-3 week trips to rural communities in Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Ghana to promote development challenges. The DePaul chapter has 8 different Brigades, spanning the health, environmental, business and human rights fields. Brendan said his experience in the Medical Brigades meant a lot to him, as “the joy of the community members is infectious.”

What will I learn?

There are a lot of benefits from interning abroad, even for short periods of time. As for the Brigades, Brendan said, “as cliché as it sounds, it really can be a life-changing experience.” By working directly with the less fortunate, you learn compassion, problem solving, accountability and adaptability, to name a few. You’re learning to create professional proposals to solve real-world problems that are right in front of you, so you are always kept on your toes.

…it [the Brigades] really can be a life-changing experience

How can this help academically?

Along with going on the trip to one of the aforementioned countries, you can also enroll in the UIP 367 course to fulfill your Experiential Learning Credit. The class starts once you return from the trip, and you learn about both sides of working for a non-profit organization. You’ll work on unpacking your experience and how to use your newfound skills in future career opportunities. It’s a pretty unique experience to go on an immersion trip and take a correlating career development class after. According to Brendan, “passing up this opportunity is almost criminal!”

Why should I apply?

While experience is a great reason to apply, there are so many benefits to this program. For example, thanks to the Brigades, Brendan discovered his interest in pursuing a career in international medicine. On top of the great immersion experience, Brendan and his fellow Brigaders have kept in touch with the education chair of the organization. He is still active in certain aspects of their education material, even though he has moved on to a different title.

Another reason you should apply? “The Global Brigades is also very open to helping their students find future opportunities and continuing the passion they found while on their trip,” Brendan said.

If you are interested in applying to be a Brigader or want to find out more information about the 8 different platforms that you can volunteer under, please email One factor to keep in mind is that you must fundraise or pay for your trip to the country – this is not a paid position. However, there are many ways to fundraise your expenses and the program directors are more than willing to help you come up with ways to pay for this unforgettable experience. Brendan’s one tip is to start fundraising early!

Want to learn more about DePaul’s University Internship Program (UIP)? Check it out, here, or send inquiries to Need help finding an internship? Visit, or come into DePaul’s Career Center to meet with an advisor.


DePaul Diaries: Life as an LGBTQ Youth Services Intern

By: Sean Nasi, DePaul University digital cinema major ’15

DePaul Diaries is a day-in-the-life blog series written by DePaul students. The series unveils DePaulians’ experiences as interns in their field of choice. Students share their honest thoughts about their experiences, what they learned as an intern and advice for students who are interested in the same field.

Brandon Jordan, a DePaul sociology major, calls his experience as a drop-in intern at the Howard Brown – Broadway Youth Center (BYC) one of the best experiences. The BYC provides support to at-risk LGBTQ youth in Chicago, something Brandon has always been particularly passionate about. He applied to the position after seeing an advertisement at a local hospital and soon found himself assisting homeless LGBTQ youth, organizing clothing donations, and administering hygiene kits for those in need.

“It’s always different,” Brandon said about his internship, “you have to stay on your toes because things change daily and there are always new youth.”

Brandon’s internship experience allowed him to learn about various nonprofit resources throughout the city and how to conduct oneself in a professional environment. However, Brandon believes “what made this internship special is that it’s family first and business second.” The family environment at BYC helps the youth feel comfortable with the organization:

“Some of the youth that we work with are homeless, and some have homes, but need a place to visit to just take a break. And being able to see them come in and relax, smile, and dance makes it all worthwhile,” Brandon said.

Brandon also learned the value of trust and camaraderie during his time at the internship:

“When I first started my internship, I was not the type to love hugs; I would normally just high-five or shake hands,” Brandon said, “but working in this environment has made me understand that sometimes people could use a hug because we don’t know what their day was like before they walked through those doors, so hugging people is something that I’ve become accustomed to.”

The biggest impact this experience has left on Brandon is not learning what he can do to be happy and successful, but how he can help another person be happy and successful.

“This internship has really helped me expand on what it means to be diverse,” Brandon said. “DePaul has given me the opportunity to really grasp diversity…And walking into my internship I was able to put that skill to use and further develop it.”

Want to learn about DePaul’s University Internship Program? Check it out, here, or send inquiries to Need help finding an internship? Visit, or come into DePaul’s Career Center to meet with an advisor.