Marketing in the Healthcare Industry



Sparkle Sanders

B.S. in Marketing, 2005

MBA, 2007

Marketing & Communications Specialist at Carle Foundation Hospital
AddSpark Consulting

During her junior year at EIU, Sparkle Sanders was able to secure an internship at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois. She immediately fell in love with healthcare marketing and decided that it was the industry for her. This drove her back to EIU to pursue her MBA degree. While there, she met a classmate who worked at Carle Physician Group. When a marketing position opened at Carle, she applied, and to her surprise, her classmate pulled her resume and convinced the team that she would be a good fit for the position. After many rounds of interviews, she was offered the job as Marketing and Communications Specialist, a role that she has filled for five years now.

Sanders’s career at Carle Foundation Hospital is a dream come true. Her responsibilities include the advertising, marketing, and communications for twelve regional outpatient locations throughout central Illinois as well as Primary Care (Adult Medicine, Family Medicine, and Pediatrics), Bariatrics, and Women’s Health departments. She is also in charge of the marketing and communications for "MyCarle," a secure patient web portal. She performs a variety of tasks from writing slogans, to coming up with cool and unique ways to get more patients to use particular services. She has had the chance to manage multimedia campaigns, grand openings of new locations, and the launch of new services.

In addition to her work as a marketing specialist, Sanders has recently started her own consulting and coaching business. She provides business consulting and strategic planning/marketing to struggling and aspiring business owners. She also offers coaching services to upcoming and recent college grads – helping them prepare and transition to the working world. Between Carle and her new consulting business, Sparkle faces variety in her daily life, something she greatly appreciates.  She says, “There is no typical day in my world and I love it! It’s challenging, but exciting – always a new adventure. The variety keeps me growing and developing into a better professional each day.”

Sanders uses several skills that she gained from the classroom in her career, particularly project management and multitasking. Juggling multiple projects and classes taught her how to utilize to-do lists and deadline charts in order to be successful in her classes. She now uses these tactics in her career.  “With working in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment, I’m called to prioritize and re-prioritize daily in order to stay abreast of tasks and meet the demands of my clients. I believe the project management skills I learned at the School of Business help every day to make the most of my time.”

Sanders feels that the MBA Program at EIU helped her to be disciplined and professional in the working world. It also gave her the opportunity to learn how to conduct herself as a young professional through workshops on networking, professional dress, dining etiquette, and speaking in the workplace. In particular, the MBA Organizational Behavior class was important to her development as a professional: “One of my graduate classes, Organizational Behavior, was integral to my learning about workplace professionalism. It taught me how to avoid office gossip, how to handle workplace politics, and how to manage conflict between co-workers. Lessons from this class are still with me today. I strongly believe that learning all of these key professional strategies helped me to have a smooth transition from college to my career.”

For Sanders, one of the most important assets of the EIU School of Business is the small class sizes. This allowed her to get to know her classmates and develop lasting relationships with her professors. For incoming students, Sanders has loads of advice.  She says that students should get to know their professors who are "not only there to teach, but to help and guide you. They offer a wealth of knowledge from the working world as well, so they can provide great advice to you."  She also notes the importance of getting involved with registered student organizations, "Through my membership in the American Marketing Association (AMA), I was able to meet speakers from various industries, as well as work on projects that gave me real world experience, such as a full-scale marketing plan that won an award at the annual AMA conference in 2005."  Sanders also encourages students to register with EIU Career Services, as this is a critical component to beginning a career.  Finally, Sanders says that students should be willing to ask questions and to face their fears.  She says, "Becoming a business student can be very intimidating. With so much to learn and so many different classes to take, you may feel like you want to give up before you even start. But don’t! Dare to be different. Accept the challenge. Learn all you need to learn and seek out help from professors and others when you need it."

Sanders is grateful to the School of Business for giving her the skills and confidence to succeed.  She says, "It was there at the School of Business that I learned what I was truly capable of and what I really wanted to do with my life.  I’m truly thankful for the School of Business and all the help and framework they provided for me."