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.