Getting Started on Your Career

Your degree is almost in hand. Now it’s time to start looking for the job that will kick off your career in public health. Here are some tips on getting started.

Start early

It is a process to become career ready, and it begins upon admittance to the MPH program.  You may need to acquire additional skills prior to applying, update your resume, ask for recommendation letters, gather references, etc.  Get practice in job hunting as a student by looking for internships or other positions that build your skill base.  School experiences, such as seminars, Fall Colloquium, the Practicum Experience, and professional meetings, because they can provide additional ideas and skills that aid in this process.

Create your marketing materials

Write a resume and update it frequently so that it will be ready when you need it; you never know when you will meet someone who could be a potential job contact.  Write a general cover letter that you can tailor to each potential job.  Put together a portfolio of your experiences; you can include school events, like internships and the Practicum Experience.  Write an “elevator speech” so you can sell yourself in two minutes or less.

Cast a wide net in your job search

Use several methods to find a job.  You can use candidate referral databases, listings on the internet, newspapers, and professional magazines, employment agencies, executive search firms, consulting firms, informal inquiries, and informal and formal networks.

Apply for positions that match your qualifications

It is advantageous to apply for all positions that match your minimal capabilities. Even if you don’t possess all the necessary skills, you will get your name out into the employer community.

Prepare for the job interview

Learn about the organization and position before you interview.  This will allow you to sell yourself in the most effective manner and stress why you are the best candidate.  Prepare questions for the employer.  Even if you don’t get the job, consider each interview as an opportunity to improve your skills for the next time.

Think before accepting a job

If you have several offers, consider the benefits of each position.  For example, will you be able to use your skills?  Are there possibilities for advancement?  What are the salary and benefits?  What is the amount and level of work?  Is the organization stable?

Continue career development even after securing a job

Networking is a lifelong process; always be prepared with an updated resume and “elevator speech.”  Continue involvement in professional organizations and consider becoming a mentor.  Re-evaluate your short-term and long-term goals constantly; if your values and interests change, don’t be afraid to pursue career satisfaction.


Questions or comments? Contact Lexie Just. This page was last reviewed on April 15, 2014.