By: Claire Talbert (Alumni) – Health Policy & Management
If you, like me, have never lived in a real city before coming to Rollins, then you, like me, may think “wow, are there too many opportunities here?”. I found the breadth and variety of opportunities for internships, REAL, volunteering, and APE legitimately overwhelming when I first started searching for positions. Now, nearly two years, a REAL job, an APE, and a ‘real’ job later, I have learned some important lessons about finding merit in all sorts of opportunities.
First, just because a position doesn’t sound right up your alley, doesn’t mean it won’t be valuable. I found this to be particularly true of jobs that used the skills I wanted to practice but maybe weren’t topically aligned with my interest. I ended up working on multiple ophthalmology projects despite having little to no interest in eye health, but now I have a weird amount of eye-related trivia knowledge. As long as I was learning what I wanted to learn and practicing the skills I wanted to practice, I found that the specific context wasn’t super important.
Second, temporary positions like REAL and APE are great opportunities to try new things and learn what you do and, equally important, what you don’t like. This goes for what you’re doing, as well as the environment you are doing it in. In looking for my ‘real’ job for after graduation, I drew a ton on my experiences in my temporary REAL and APE experiences. I would much rather learn that I don’t like a specific work environment or type of work in a temporary, 12-ish week position than in a longer-term job after graduation. If you try something new and find out that it just isn’t your thing, then it’s a lesson well learned for the future.
Third, keeping an open mind about where you want to work can help you find super cool opportunities. A lot of people come to Rollins to have access to opportunities at the CDC. If your dream is to work at the CDC, then absolutely go for it. But also, don’t feel like you have to restrict yourself to opportunities at a specific organization just because you feel like you should. I decided to keep an open mind in my job searches, had really valuable experiences at a variety of organizations, and went on to get a great job for after graduation. Opportunities truly abound here, and you can make your experience into whatever you want it to be.