Looking for a position during or after completing your MPH degree can be nerve-wracking and overwhelming, especially while simultaneously trying to write a thesis, attend classes, complete homework assignments, work, volunteer, and take care of personal responsibilities- among many other commitments. However, there are ways to alleviate the stress and enjoy the process of securing a position.
As a recent MPH graduate who is passionate about connecting job-seekers to resources, I am excited to share the following suggestions to enhance your career search process!
Develop an application tracker using excel
Organization is key! Use excel to create a job application tracker, which can include the following columns or anything you find relevant to keep track of your applications: Name of position, Name of Organization/company, Location, Deadline, Application Requirements, Website, Application Status. This is especially helpful when you need to prioritize and locate certain applications.
Start early by reviewing job descriptions
Depending on the type of position it may not be feasible to start submitting applications more than 6 months before your prospective start date, however you can still start looking at open positions to see what types of jobs are out there. Make note of the organizations and job titles that interest you, for future reference. This is something that first year MPH students or incoming MPH students can do to help them narrow down their interests, figure out how their skills align with positions, and determine what skills they may need to work on or gain.
Quality is more important than quantity
One of the major challenges with applying to jobs is balancing quality with quantity. Yes, you do want to ensure you are applying to many positions, and one way to do that is to set small deadlines. For example, I made sure I applied to at least 2 jobs a week, or 8 jobs a month. If I was working on an application that was more extensive, I would give myself some flexibility. However, quality is even more important; make sure you are submitting applications that are your best work, fully thought out, and don’t have grammatical errors.
Ask other people to review your application materials
This can be a family member, friend, mentor, or anyone you are comfortable with. You don’t want to overburden them with every single cover letter and application you plan to submit, so have them review your cover letter, resume personal statement, etc when you start, since you will likely be using similar ones through the process. Be selective in what needs to be reviewed by these contacts, and give them enough time to review and provide you with adequate feedback.
Pay attention to detail
Although you may have a go-to template for your applications, sometimes you will need to write a completely new cover letter or resume, depending on the organization and their requirements. Pay attention to specific requirements. For example, some applications may be specific that they require only a 1-page resume or have a word limit for personal statements or essays.
Utilize your University’s Career Development Resources
This is something I can honestly say I didn’t do enough of. University Career Development Centres are there to help you, especially in terms of resume development and interview preparation. Depending on your university, they may have workshops, networking events, and a job board or list serv!
Engage with Public Health Social Media Outlets
Many public health organizations, foundations, and companies post their positions on Twitter or Facebook. Follow organizations you’re interested in, engage with their posts, and also check in on relevant hashtags such as #PublicHealth #GlobalHealth #PublicHealthCareers
Align your job search with professional development opportunities and skill building
Check out this Resource Guide!
I created this Global Health Job Resource Guide to help my peers jumpstart their job application process. This database includes a list of over 70 organizations in the field of Public Health, as well as a list of recommended online learning websites. Access is free, and the password to access the database is GHJRG18.
Take time to relax
As many people have said before me, applying to jobs is a full time job. Despite the worries and frustrations you may have during the process, make sure you take a break and find time to remember the positive parts of the experience. You’ve made it this far, and you have a bright future ahead of you.
All the best in your job search!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the blog are those of the author and do not reflect the views of her employer or the U.S. Government.
About the author:
Vanessa Da Costa is a PHI/CDC Global Health Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in South Africa. Vanessa has an MPH in Global Epidemiology from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and a BS in Psychology and minor in African Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Previously, Vanessa served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Rwanda, and worked in the Department of Epidemiology at Emory, at the Rwanda Zambia HIV Research Group, and at the Georgia Emerging Infections Program.
Vanessa’s global health interests include mixed methods research and data analysis, M&E, HIV/AIDS, family planning, and digital health.