Apply for REAL, but Don’t Limit Yourself

Taylor Chambers, 1st Year Epidemiology Student

When I was admitted to Rollins, I was thrilled to see that my financial aid package included a REAL award (although, I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant at the time). However, I didn’t end up accepting a REAL position. Over the summer, I began my search for jobs in Atlanta. I wasn’t moving until August, but I thought it couldn’t hurt to at least see what was out there before REAL positions opened up (not until the beginning of August do 1st year students get access to the portal). I came across a number of positions by searching the Public Health Connection public portal that Emory hosts.

What I found were a number of positions looking for masters candidates students in Atlanta. Many wanted students to start immediately (so those who will be in Atlanta before August, this is a great opportunity to jump into work while here). I ended up applying for a job working in surveillance activities with the Georgia Emerging Infections Program. I had a phone interview in July, had references checked in August, and had an in person interview mid August upon my arrival to Atlanta. I was offered the position that day.

So, it’s now mid August and I’ve accepted a job that would be mine for the next 2 years. Here’s why I’m glad I took the job:

  1. Secured job prior to the start of classes
  2. Have same flexibility in schedule usually offered by REAL positions
  3. Paid more than REAL (essential for me to pay for rent and other needs during the semester)
  4. Not limited to how many hours I can work a semester (no cap on income potential)
  5. Was able to start work by September 1st (many CDC positions through REAL postpone start until October 1st)
  6. Work with people outside of the Emory bubble
  7. Job is within walking distance to campus
  8. Don’t have to reapply for position & not a temporary job
  9. Still have practicum and thesis possibilities through my job
  10. Great real world experience not fostered by Rollins

If you’re thinking this might interest you as well, start your job search early. You’re at an advantage if you already live in Atlanta or plan to move here earlier in the summer. Use the Public Health Connection to search for local positions in addition to other websites. I’m happy that I was offered REAL, because there are a large number of positions that require REAL, but I’m more than satisfied with my decision to accept a position outside of REAL. For those of you who weren’t offered REAL, know that there are public health jobs out there that don’t require REAL, but you will have to do extra work on your end to find and apply for these jobs.

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