An Amateur’s Guide to Landing Your Dream Job


Kevin Santos as a Pathmaker Intern in Blue ScrubsKevin Santos has some advice for those of you trying to land your dream job, “intern for five years,” he says with a slight grin on his face.

That might seem a little over the top, but it’s what landed Kevin his dream job as the digital marketing specialist at Palomar Health.

Kevin started a Palomar Health internship in 2011 by joining the Pathmaker Internship Program as a student at MiraCosta College. At the time, he was planning on becoming a nurse, doctor or other healthcare worker, and he jumped at the opportunity to intern at the largest healthcare district in California.

Early in the internship, he joined the Pathmaker recruitment team. He soon discovered he enjoyed taking photos, creating and delivering presentations, writing messages, and everything else about the marketing aspect of recruitment. Eventually he became the director of recruitment and spent many hours after school promoting the program. He did this for no pay or college credit.

“I did it all for self-fulfillment,” Kevin said. “I felt like we were making an impact.”

After a year, he transitioned to working for Palomar Health Internal Communications and said he spent considerable time taking photos and editing the company Intranet and newsletter.

“All those skills transitioned to what I do now,” Kevin said.

By the time he transferred from MiraCosta College to the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), a top school for future healthcare workers, he had decided he wanted to pursue a career in healthcare communications.

At UCSD, he worked on the school newspaper, interned at the Health and Human Services Department of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C ., and the San Diego Business Journal, all while continuing his Palomar Health internship.

Upon graduation, he continued as a volunteer in the Palomar Health marketing department, while he pursued an online graduate degree from Syracuse University in digital communications.

At the time, Pia Mangini, the digital marketing manager, was in the process of hiring a digital marketing specialist. After her first candidate fell through, she looked across the hall and thought of Kevin.

“He was motivated…he will do anything…he has a hunger to learn,” Pia said listing off his attributes.

Pia also took notice of Kevin’s almost five-year commitment to the organization and the one-hour drive he took every day to get from his home in Chula Vista to the office in San Marcos as a sign of his passion for the job.

Kevin Santos flying a drone “He was right here under our nose the whole time.”

Kevin’s passion has continued more than one year after accepting the job,
the one that pays him in cash and benefits, not just satisfaction.

“I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Kevin said.

Recently, he spent three days in Oregon learning all
the FAA regulations to get his drone pilot’s license, which he uses to shoot a helicopter perspective of employee events, facilities and paraphernalia like marketing billboards. He also completed his online graduate degree in digital communications.

In the future, Kevin wants to take more advantage of what technology has to offer the marketing field, such as augmented reality. He’s working on a 3D virtual reality tour of Palomar’s facilities, in addition to his normal duties of creating social media posts, producing employee passion videos and developing digital ads.

Fun Facts about Kevin

  • His first name is Kristofer but he goes by his middle name Kevin.

  • Kevin says his passion is to “wow” people.

  • He likes to wow his parents with gifts: He gave his mother a Louis Vuitton purse for Mother’s Day and his father a new set of Callaway golf clubs for Father’s Day.

  • He was a Navy brat and spent most of his elementary school years on a military base in Japan.

  • He is a movie fanatic but says the Japanese military base only had one screen. “We had to wait in line three hours to see Spider-Man,” Kevin said.

  • His favorite movies are Home Alone, superhero and horror movies.

  • He is a newly minted uncle; his only sibling had a baby boy recently.

  • His girlfriend is pursuing his former dream; she is applying to medical school.

  • He attended Saint Rita’s Catholic School and Cathedral Catholic High School.

  • Besides flying drones, making videos and watching movies, he likes hiking and biking.

​Photo caption: Kevin in his younger days in the Pathmaker program.

Photo caption: Kevin uses his drone skills at Poway Days.

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