Top priority: How do you get a job after two years at RSPH?

Jessi Harnisch, 2nd year and graduating (!) BSHE student

The halls and lunch tables at RSPH are buzzing with anxiety and excitement concerning what is happening after May 12th (Graduation Day). By now, we have all defended and submitted our theses, presented our capstone presentations, and have finished up a few of our final classes. The last thing on our plate is to secure a job that is exciting, engaging, and to be perfectly honest, pays well.

I’m happy to announce that I have found that job: it is really exciting, really engaging, and it pays really well! I’ll be working at a physician consulting group here in Atlanta, and my tasks include; physician survey development; interviewing and conducting focus groups with physicians, and analyzing the data that I collect. In short, I will be working for an organization that is paying me to do everything that I have learned over the past two years. But, before I get into more details, let me tell you the timeline that developed before confirming my full-time job.

  1. 1st year, Fall Semester: I went to Career Services before school started, and had them edit and rejuvenate my CV. I then secured my first REAL job at the National Center for Birth Defects and Disabilities (at the CDC). This first graduate school job was crucial because it helped me get into the CDC and secure subsequent positions. I also went to my first Career Fair, letting me see what possible summer internships would be available.
  2. 1st year, Spring Semester: I went to a Mock Interview that was conducted by Career Services, and interviewed with my spring Practicum advisor! He interviewed me and after the interview, he told me to look into a student group that was looking for research assistants. And so I became a research assistant for the Georgia Maternal Infant Health Research Group (GMIHRG) over the summer, which was a wonderful experience that let me complete my practicum experience, and trained me to perform the tasks of my post-graduation job!
  3. 2nd year, Fall Semester: I attended the Fall Career Fair, and met my future employer! After the Career Fair, my future boss contacted me via email, asked for my CV, and asked me to tell him about why I would be a good fit for the company. I kept in touch with him over the remainder of the Fall Semester, and emailed him after the 1st of the year to let him know that I would be graduating in May.
  4. 2nd year, Spring Semester: This semester was filled by job applications, about 25 applications and cover letters were sent out to various employers; the CDC, ORISE fellowships, ASPPH fellowships, the GDPH, etc. From there, I had seven interviews with various employers, and two jobs offers that would begin after graduation day!

So what is the point of telling you my job-seeking saga? First of all, start your search early and take advantage of the different events that Career Services holds. You never know when you are going to meet your future employer. For me, I met my practicum advisor at a mock interview. I met my post-graduation employer at the Fall Career Fair. Secondly, it is nice to have options when determining where you will be working after graduation. Apply to every job that is even a little bit interesting to you. And lastly, use Career Services every semester to polish your CV, attend Career Fairs, and participate in mock interviews or networking nights.

Finding a full-time job after graduation is a bit of a chore – on top of course work, working on your thesis or capstone, and your internship(s) – you need to be taking the time to search for open positions. But it works out! The majority of my friends and classmates have secured a job because we have put in the time to find our future employers. The great thing about being at RSPH is that there are a lot of resources and connections that you can make to help you find that full-time job after graduation. If you put in the work, there are plenty of people – professors, practicum advisors, thesis advisors, academic advisors, REAL employers, colleagues, etc. that will help you along the job-seeking saga that is graduate school.

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