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  • Anna Litman 9:43 pm on February 23, 2017 Permalink
    Tags: , , career nights, , , , Health Studies, ,   

    Health Studies Career Night, February 15 2017 

    Prepared by Alexandra Jones, CAS Career Advising Team Assistant

    Did you miss the Health Studies Career Night, but are still interested in the information provided? Well, although you did miss the opportunity to directly communicate and network with professionals working in what may be your future career field, this blog post may help you.

    The panel, moderated by Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Studies (DHS) Kathleen Holton, and co-hosted by DHS and AU Career Center, consisted of four alumni:

    • Annika Bergstrom, TB Investigator at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • Ryan Paquin, Research Scientist at the Center for Communication Science at RTI International
    • Elizabeth Prevou, Clinical Practice Manager at GWU, and
    • Justin Morgan, Research Assistant at the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute.

    Each speaker talked about the most and least favorite aspects of their careers, as well as gave advice to aid students’ future success, which is shared below.

    How do you get your foot in the door?

    There are various ways to go about entering a career in the health field. While Bergstrom simply applied through USA Jobs, this may be difficult as it is a competitive process, in which your resume has to stand out to employers from hundreds of others. Other panelists recommend that students work their networks to obtain a job lead, or get connected to someone from the organization you are interested in.

    At times, your personality may be enough to get your foot in the door; the issue is displaying your character to employers. Morgan managed to get an interview with the Urban Institute by calling the institution and talking to an executive. This allowed him to add a personal touch to the application process, which cannot always be included in a resume submission.

    How to be strategic with your internships?

    Panelists recommend that students complete internships and treat each internship as a learning experience and utilize all connections gained.  Internships can also clarify your career goals and preferences. Prevou said, “Knowing what you don’t want to do at times is just as helpful as knowing what you do want to do.” At the same time, all panelists agreed that students should not jeopardize their peace of mind and sleep to work multiple internships at one time just to buff up a resume.

    What skills make students valuable and wanted in the workplace?

    No matter your desired job, all panelists recommended that students obtain basic research skills and knowledge of statistical programs, such as SAS, SPSS and Excel. AU offers courses and access to some of these programs through the Center for Teaching, Research and Learning (CTRL) if you have not learned them already.

    Knowledge of medical terms and anatomy also allows easy communication across job fields. While this may not be stressed in the interview, such knowledge may be necessary to learn on the job – so why not pick it up sooner rather than later?

    Lastly, knowing email etiquette and how to follow-up may be the most beneficial and necessary job skill in any field. Email are often the first form of communication between an employer and employee. Therefore learn how to make your emails sound professional and friendly, but with a hint of your personality.

    Were you prepared for the workplace post-graduation?

    While there will always be a learning curve when entering a new job, panelists stressed that students should not be nervous about it. After all, they did hire you! Still, be ready to put in the necessary effort to grow in your career. Listen, ask questions and do your best.

     

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  • Anna Litman 10:10 pm on February 20, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: career nights, , ,   

    Women In Science Career Night 

    Written by Howlader Nashara, Student Assistant to the CAS Career Advising Team.

    On February 18th, the Women in Science Club and the Career Center co-hosted a career panel with four alumnae who work in various fields, from audio technology to environmental science:

    • Anna Cetina: CAS/MS ’05, Director of the Audio Technology Program at AU
    • Brynne McCord: CAS/BA ’07, Program Manager for Engility Corporation
    • Jamey McEachran: CAS/MS ’11, Marine Resource Specialist for ERT inc., In-House Contractor for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service
    • Kate Pinkerton: CAS/BS ’10, CAS/MS ’12, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Fellow, working on the Hypoxia Team at the Environmental Protection Agency

    The most striking aspect of this panel was that the participants had newly established careers. All have graduated from CAS graduate or undergraduate programs, providing reassurance to current students that a degree, networking, and a little bit of hard work can indeed result in a job. The panelists were asked to provide examples of skills that they look for when hiring. Whether working in policy or research, the panelists placed an emphasis on having a background in science. McCord spoke about how it helps her to understand the depth and difficulty of projects, which in turn allows her to run a much more efficient office because she is able to empathize with her co-workers and their workloads. Pinkerton echoed the need to have a basic science background, and added that writing proficiency and the ability to communicate ideas about scientific concepts, both verbally and in writing, are extremely important. Cetina, the panelist with the longest career, stated that when she is hiring, she looks for someone that is humble about what they do not know and open to learning about those things. The need for flexibility was a sentiment echoed by everyone. This leads to the one concern that every graduating student or recent graduate has: where to find a job and how to plot a career trajectory. McEachran recommends looking at contracting and consulting when starting out, especially if a student is interested in natural resource management. Jobs often intersect with both federal/state governments and also within the non-profit sector, so there is diversity in what someone can learn from their work. Pinkerton recommends looking at federal/state government, the non-profit sector, contracting and consulting, and also research. Pinkerton is currently a fellow at ORISE and advised students to learn more and apply to the program as it is specifically designed for recent graduates.

    It is always interesting to ask people what they think about having a nine-to-five job. Some will say that they love it, and others will say a routine is the most boring thing a person could pursue. Cetina and McCord agreed that very few people truly lead that kind of scheduled life. Working in the audio-technology field, Cetina warned students that hours are often late. Working as the director of AU’s program, her main focus is to be there for students and advise them. However, even when she is on the field for a project, there are days that start early and end late, and then some that start late and end early. Pinkerton advised students to figure out whether they want a nine-to-five job or not; if they do, then maybe working in government is good for them. However, working in the non-profit sector means longer hours but the payoff is that the passion is what drives people to work. The most important piece of advice she provided about this was that students should pursue a work-life balance that is most conducive to their success and happiness in both their professional and personal lives.

    Thus when asked for some final pieces of advice, McCord advised students to really pursue what they love- and figure out what that is as soon as possible. She confessed that had she never taken physics, she would never have known that she wanted a career in science. If there is a class that a student is even vaguely interested in, she said that they should take it! This led to McEachron’s point: participate in campus networking events and practice communicating. Cetina encouraged students to take up internships and explore interests; there is no better way to explore potential jobs and work on skill sets at the same time than through internships. She explained that “when you go down a career path, it gets harder and harder to turn back,” so it is necessary to take advantage of all the opportunities available now.

     
  • Anna Litman 9:36 pm on February 20, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: career nights, , ,   

    Public Health Career Night Panelists’ Perspectives on Career Direction and Job Search 

    Written by Howlader Nashara, Student Assistant to the CAS Career Advising Team.

    On February 11th, The Career Center and the Public Health Program co-hosted a career panel that featured five professionals working in various aspects of the public health field from health promotion, to policy and advocacy, to program development and more:

    • Brian Bowden: Associative Legislative Director at the National Association of Counties (NACo)
    • Evelyn Kelly: CAS ’01, Senior Program Manager at the Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI)
    • Andy Melendez-Salgado: Senior Advisor for Program Integration and Health at the American Red Cross
    • Kim Smith: CAS ’14, Communication Associate at CommunicateHealth Inc.
    • Alyia Smith-Parker: Senior Associate for Health and Wellness at the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education, and Families

    All brought to the table diverse academic backgrounds, varying career paths, and wisdom and insights on working in the public health sector. Jody Gan, an instructor in the School of Education, Teaching, and Health in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Public Health, was the moderator for the night.

    The panelists were asked about their career paths post-graduation, and then asked to describe what kind of academic paths they saw themselves on prior to graduation. Melendez-Salgado, a graduate of Florida State, talked about his experiences working with migrant farm workers during school, and how seeing their health issues sparked his interest in public health. That interest guided him to change his major, and led to an internship at the Department of Health. Bowden, a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas, was not aware of public health as a field of work, and thus ended double majoring in medical sociology and biology, with the intent of going to a medical school. However, upon discovering that his interests lay elsewhere, Bowden received a Rotary Scholarship to attend University of Liverpool’s School of Tropical Medicine and pursue a master’s degree in Humanitarian Studies. Bowden advised that students should “Feel free to create your own path if it’s not there for you.” Important advice, considering how a common theme among the career paths of many of the panelists reflected change that occurred upon taking initiative in their lives.

    Kelly discussed the importance of taking initiative as well; she received her current position after hearing about the organization at a work conference, and then requesting an information interview with president of the company. Although no positions were open at the time, a few weeks after the interview, Kelly found out that the organization liked her enough to create a position specifically for her. Similarly, Smith-Parker received her current job through her supervisor by communicating openly about her professional interests. Her supervisor was able to point her to a job in the parent organization. The importance of networking and utilizing connections in order to gain employment or explore interests was emphasized by everyone on the panel. Smith, the most recent graduate, talked about how she used her connections at American University and in the D.C. area, including the Career Center, her professors, and contacts from previous internships, to procure her current position directly after graduating.

    The panelists who handle hiring processes at their respective organizations gave the audience advice on what they like to see in candidates. Among those qualities are critical thinking skills, knowledge about the organization the applicant is interviewing with, and the ability to transfer skills from other experiences. Collectively, they also advised applicants to really research organizations and target every cover letter and resume to specific employers. Melendez-Salgado added that students should start volunteering with organizations they are interested in, because even that tiniest bit of experience can turn into an internship or job. At the end of the night, the panelists were asked if they would do anything differently in their lives and offered some thoughts on their personal professional development. Melendez-Saldago expressed that although he speaks two languages, given that he works with an international aid organization, he wished he had learned more languages. Kelly wishes that she had studied abroad. Smith-Parker stated that she wished she had not been so linear in her path, and had taken time to pursue other non-public health related interests in order to be a more well-rounded individual. Bowden, his path was certainly atypical, advised students to follow their passions, be aware of natural talents, and use all of that to strengthen the skill set that they put forth in the professional world.

     
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