Public Health Career anyone?: Buckle your seat belts

So a public health career is your choice, and you are you are ready to go? Here is a checklist that could facilitate the journey.

Pre-professional experience

Some say is the polite form of very polite form of getting your hands dirty. You may have heard this a gazillion times ‘Voila!’ A career in this field is not an exception to the rule. Get some practice of a profession before you embark on your studies.

‘Exposure before training, is this even possible?’ I hear you ask.

It is quite simple really, volunteer, take time to work as an intern, join a fellowship programme…put yourself out there

 There are plenty of organizations out there seeking volunteers and its unimaginable how the spirit of volunteerism not only creates a positive awareness about health but gets everyone involved. I did volunteer during my soul-searching period with a humanitarian organization, the Red Cross, and Red Crescent movement.

The range of health activities ranged from disaster management, health promotion, logistics in supplies delivery in areas with conflict, this sort of exposure enabled me to relate to the human needs during emergencies while giving me the chance to help others.

This was more than I could have asked for a soul-searching period but I digress. Getting back my point be willing to work in a team and the knowledge gained will be immense.

You could schedule this during the weekend, summer break or better yet take a couple days off during your holiday and take volunteer abroad placements… Volunteer Vacation!

Some internships may be paid while others unpaid. As a volunteer, the organization may cater to your needs such as meals, accommodation, laundry while others may not.

However, this should not deter you to remember the core of public health is service to humanity. You may be receiving way more in expertise than you are actually giving…. food for thought!

School vs Time

So exposure is off the bucket list and you need technical knowledge. You need to hit the books again. here are options to explore, most degree courses in public health contain compulsory units also known as core subjects, while non-degree certificate courses allow one to focus on what captures your interest like health promotion, emergency relief, outreach nutrition, climate change and health.

Here are some timelines undergraduate courses range from 3 to 4 years, graduate courses take 1 or 2 years and could lead ultimately to doctorate/ Ph.D., diploma and postgraduate certificate ideally will take 6 months to a year to study. And guess what! most institutions of higher learning are now offering various short courses which take up to 4 weeks ………so no excuses.

Time vs Location

So you have the time but you currently working…. wait… not so fast don’t hang in the boots just yet! There’s actually an answer to this dilemma. Get online!

Welcome to the era of digitization and take a moment to thank the worldwide web for this one.  You can study from the comfort of your home. What you get will be access to learning material, webinars with tutors from across the globe and my favorite discussions with other students from all over the globe just a click away.

Self -paced learning could not have come at a better time, be the holder of a verified certificate, earn your credits and pick a public health topic you wish to learn.

Location vs Fees

Start saving early if you wish to carry out your degree in Public Health, that said the amount of payment for education depends on the university you will be attending.

Some good news though most teaching institutions may have a scholarship database which is something you should explore. If you think online your organization could actually assist in your professional development.

Again take advantage of the free online courses. Some of the certificate in public health courses are free and offered by some of the top universities across the world.

Finally remember when in doubt, tap into your resources these include your mentor, a teacher in the field, an expert who has been out in the field get some coffee.

Hearing others experience could guide you in the Public field…ENJOY THE RIDE!

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How to land a job in a top bank: When the A’s are no longer enough

Those grades are great but they aren't enough to get you that job in a top investment bank Click To Tweet

Let me paint a picture for you.

GCSE 9A*’S. A-Level 4A*S. University 1st class in Business and Economics. Founder of a Banking society in university. An avid reader of FT, The Economist etc. Sounds like a good resume of a banking employee right? WRONG! Or shall I say not necessarily.

Sorry to burst your bubbles if you are reading this and this is you and you are thinking you have done enough. (Chances are you are, I mean all the Motherland Moguls are all geniuses who talk about Marxism and liberalism at their Saturday lunches.) The truth is those grades are great, but they are necessary ingredients, not sufficient ones.

So how can you stand out? Here’s what I have come to find from my experience in a top investment bank and by speaking to the people I work with.

Three tips that will help you…good luck!

1. Networking as cliché as it sounds is the quickest way to accelerate your application

People go and on about the power of networking. I go to many conferences and the section I dread the most is the 20 minutes they shove in at the end for ‘networking’. You may be reading this agreeing with me. Sister, I feel ya!

But let me share something with you. I have been in my industry for a couple of years now and I have never gotten an opportunity the conventional way. Everything has come as a result of a simple conversation with someone who I connected with.

Networking is not speed dating! You do not have to speak to everyone. Find one or two people to connect with in an authentic way and follow up!! This is where most people drop the ball. When I moved into the Securities division at my firm it was a shock to many.

How did you do it? Well an MD asked three of us to email him for coffee after a recruitment event. The next day I set it up. We spoke, we connected and after a few months, he hired me. What I later realised was I was the only one who followed up with him.

Nobody likes a jack-of-all-trades master of none, here's how to stand out Click To Tweet

2. Know your WHY and have a story

To a large extent, one of the reasons I wanted to go into the corporate world was so I could rock a Chanel suit and 6inch Loubs, sit in a glass office and tell people what to do. Jessica Pearson from Suits to be specific. (Don’t judge me! Everyone has their fantasies!)

However, when asked why you want to go into your chosen corporate field in an interview never ever give a cliché (or dumb) answer. For example: ‘With my combination of subjects I felt this will be a great industry for me’ Yawnnnn.

Or, ‘I have always been passionate about banking and how the industry works. I kept a piggy bank since I was young and care bout savings’.

Lol, sister please take several seats.

People like to work with interesting people. Think about the interviewer- poor guy. Seeing person after person is really boring! Bring some of your personality into the room and position the conversation in a way that gives you the control!

For example: ‘I never imagined I would work in banking, to be honest. I’m really interested in infrastructure –especially coming from a third world country- and how infrastructure can enhance development. What I realised though was that there were many great developers, but no one has any idea how to finance large projects.

Concepts like debt financing, credit and loans kept coming up and so it sparked my curiosity. I began to speak to people and it became clear that rather than join the queue of people waiting to get their projects financed, I could go to other side and start helping them figure out how they could do so through different financial instruments…’ blah blah blah

Do you see the difference? You’ve now given the interviewer something to ask you more about and you can control the conversation. Chances are he doesn’t know much about infrastructure in third world countries so the interview (usually 30 min) becomes an opportunity for you to teach him something new!

To convince someone to give you a cherished spot in their firm -you need to be an intentional person Click To Tweet

3. Do not be a jack-of-all-trades master of none

I have some sister reading this who has trekked up and down the Himalayas, organised a UN conference, run a small business on the side and volunteered in a home all in the summer before their application to banking.

Sorry, sister! Are you the only one??? Relax.

Nobody likes a jack-of-all-trades master of none. To convince someone to give you that cherished spot in their firm -you need to come across as an intentional person. Don’t just pile on achievement after achievement, be clear on the reasons why you do what you do and what part of you these activities are developing.

Are you adventurous and love a good challenge? Then let your activities show that. Do you love to spend time learning about the problems of the world? Then do things to show that. Don’t be a follow-follow.

A question you will definitely get asked is what you enjoy outside of work. Give a genuine answer! Imagine spending 12-hour days with a very serious person who cannot talk about anything other than work. Snooze fest! This is what the interviewer is thinking about! Would I want to pull an all-nighter with you?

So ladies in general, it’s pretty simple- be yourself and be unique. The good grades and achievements are great, but the ‘softer skills’ I always argue will trump those every single time.

So to land that job, It’s pretty simple- be yourself and be unique Click To Tweet